Commission led by Sen. Manchin’s wife is set to receive millions more from Manchin-backed omnibus

West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin III backed the $1.7 trillion omnibus spending bill in December which included a $200 million increase in funding for a commission overseen by his wife. That money is now set to be paid out in 2023.

The commission in question, the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), employs Gayle Manchin, paying her a salary of roughly $160,000 annually. The median household income in West Virginia is $50,884, according to U.S. Census data. 

In March 2021, Gayle Manchin, an educator and former West Virginia official, was initially tapped by President Biden to serve as federal co-chair of the ARC and was unanimously confirmed by the Senate. 

Sen. Manchin, who exercises outsized influence in the Senate as a critical swing vote, voted for the omnibus spending bill that includes increased appropriations for the ARC following his wife’s appointment. 

The $1.7 trillion government funding bill, comprised of 4,000 pages, passed the Senate by a 68-29 vote in December 2022. The $200 million appropriated to the ARC is set to be paid out in 2023; the funding represents a $5 million increase from 2022 spending. 

The ARC is an economic development partnership between the government and 13 Appalachian states that helps distribute federal infrastructure grants. 

The West Virginia senator previously helped craft earlier legislation, following his wife’s 2021 appointment, that allocated $1 billion in funding over five years for the ARC. The funding, part of the bipartisan infrastructure bill, roughly doubled the ARC’s funding levels.

In a statement in May 2021, Gayle Manchin said the increased funding would help the ARC ‘more adequately meet the overwhelming needs of communities impacted by job losses resulting from the decline in the coal industry. These grants will be instrumental to the long-term diversification and economic growth in Appalachia.’

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