President Joe Biden unveiled a series of nominations for different positions in his administration, including that of “federal co-chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission,” a position to which the president himself gave special importance, as he said that the person who will occupy it will be a “key member” for his administration.
The nominee for this position is Gayle Manchin, wife of Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), who has been a stumbling block for Biden’s agenda as one of the most moderate Democrats in the entire Senate.
Joe Manchin has been in the eye of the storm since the Democrats’ majority in both houses of Congress was confirmed. Unlike many of his peers, he is running in a conservative state, West Virginia, and so it is not surprising that he is labeled as a political moderate.
In fact, he has said that he will not always vote along party lines and publicly opposes many of the more radical policies being promoted by Democrats. Manchin, arguably, is an endangered species within his own party, and could be a nuisance to the blue party’s more extreme agenda.
According to the Daily Caller, the Biden Administration “is preparing to unveil Biden’s massive “Build Back Better” economic agenda, which would reportedly address infrastructure, climate, education and jobs issues, among others. In total, Biden’s spending packages are expected to cost about $3 trillion.”
Relatedly, Biden publicly admitted his support for eliminating the filibuster, the rule that prevents major legislation from passing the upper chamber without at least 60 votes. Without the filibuster, the Senate could pass Biden’s economic agenda and more radical measures like gun control without a simple majority.
And which Democratic senators oppose eliminating the filibuster? There are two in specific: Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Joe Manchin himself.
For this reason, many conservatives view Gayle Manchin’s nomination to the Appalachian Regional Commission position with concern, arguing that it is a political wink and a nod.
Gayle Manchin’s announcement for the position was not unique, Biden made a total of 6 nominations for various jobs.
“President Joe Biden announced his intention to nominate Seema Nanda for Solicitor of the Department of Labor; Victoria Wassmer for Under Secretary for Budget and Programs and Chief Financial Officer at the Department of Transportation; Maryanne Donaghy for Assistant Secretary for Accountability and Whistleblower Protection at the Department of Veterans Affairs; Ronald Davis for director of the U.S. Marshals Service; Jocelyn Samuels for member of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission; and Gayle Conelly Manchin for Federal co-chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission,” reads the beginning of the announcement.
What does Gayle Manchin’s profile say?
The section devoted to the Regional Commission position outlines part of Gayle Manchin’s career: “A West Virginia educator, Gayle Manchin worked in Marion County Schools, served on the faculty at Fairmont State University, and was the director of the university’s first Community Service Learning Program. She directed the AmeriCorps Promise Fellows program in WV and launched a statewide initiative, WV Partnerships to Assure Student Success.”
According to the information provided, “Manchin is a former First Lady of West Virginia and was appointed to the State Board of Education, serving her last two years as chair. She is chair of the Board of Reconnecting McDowell, Inc, an AFT initiative serving rural West Virginia, a past president of the Vandalia Rotary Club of Charleston and an emeritus member of The Education Alliance. She also served as cabinet secretary for the West Virginia Office of Education and the Arts.”
If the Trump administration has been criticized for anything, it was for giving political offices to family members or, failing that, family members of close politicians considered allies.
The nomination of Gayle Manchin, for example, is not much different from the position given to Elaine Chao, wife of Mitch McConnell, Republican leader of the Senate, who served as Secretary of Transportation during the Trump administration.
But the criticism comes not from the nepotism side, but from the political argument: Is Joe Biden trying to throw a wink at Joe Manchin – an elusive vote in the Senate – by nominating his wife? Some conservatives have no doubt he is.