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The Senate Thursday confirmed educator Gayle Manchin, the wife of Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, to serve as federal co-chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission.
Gayle Manchin’s appointment to the post was confirmed via unanimous consent. President Biden nominated her for the position, which pays an annual salary of roughly $163,000, according to a federal database.
Joe Manchin, a moderate Democrat, has emerged as a key voter as the Biden administration attempts to enact its agenda with a razor-thin Democratic majority in the Senate. The West Virginia senator’s support is critical to Biden’s push to pass legislation on infrastructure, tax reform and other initiatives that will require unanimous support within the party.
The senator has notably broken with his party on several initiatives favored by progressives, including a push for a $15 federal minimum wage and calls to abolish the filibuster.
The Appalachian Regional Commission is a federal-state partnership to boost economic development across 13 states stretching from Georgia to New York.
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Prior to accepting her new post, Gayle Manchin served as West Virginia’s secretary of education from 2017 until 2018, when she was fired for publicly criticizing legislation that would have eliminated the state’s Office of Education and the Arts.
She also served as president of West Virginia’s board of education from 2013 to 2014 and as the state’s first lady when Joe Manchin was governor from 2005 to 2010.
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