Joe Biden has somewhat quietly appointed Senator Joe Manchin’s wife to a powerful federal commission. She won’t just be a member of the commission, Biden chose her to be the federal co-chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission. This is a position that must be approved by a vote in the Senate.
Let’s be honest — Joe Biden’s bringing on Gayle Conelly Manchin in hopes of scoring points with Joe Manchin. Biden needs Manchin to vote along with the other Senate Democrats to move his agenda through. In a 50/50 Senate, the Biden administration has to sweat every vote. The headline for this story automatically raises an eyebrow if the reader understands just how powerful Joe Manchin is at this point in time. Manchin can pretty much get whatever he wants from Biden in exchange for Manchin’s support.
INBOX: Biden nominates Sen. Joe Manchin’s wife to be co-chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission pic.twitter.com/gUCSuoiPec
— Andrew Solender (@AndrewSolender) March 26, 2021
This announcement is described as being “tucked at the bottom of a statement also announcing nominees to the Department of Labor, U.S. Marshal Service, Office of Management and Budget and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.” Her resume and background in West Virginia politics run through a long history of experience as a teacher and in leadership positions in West Virginia education, as announced by the White House.
An educator from West Virginia, Gayle Manchin worked in Marion County Schools, served on the faculty of Fairmont State University, and was the Director of the university’s first Community Service Learning Program. She directed the AmeriCorps Promise Fellows in WV and implemented a statewide initiative, WV Partnerships to Assure Student Success. Manchin previously served as West Virginia’s First Lady and was appointed to serve as a member of the State Board of Education, serving her last two years as President. She is the Chair of the Board for Reconnecting McDowell, Inc., an AFT initiative serving rural WV, is a past president of the Vandalia Rotary Club of Charleston, and as an Emeritus Member of The Education Alliance. She also served as Cabinet Secretary for the West Virginia Office of Education and the Arts.
Gayle Conelly Manchin attended West Virginia University, attaining her Bachelor of Arts in Language Arts and Education and a Master of Arts in Reading, and a second master’s specialization in Educational Technology Leadership from Salem International University. While at WVU, Gayle met and married Joe Manchin, III, elected as US Senator from West Virginia, to fill the unexpired term of Senator Robert C Byrd in 2010, and re-elected in 2012, and 2018 for full terms. Joe and Gayle have been married for 53 years and have three children and ten grandchildren.
Did Senator Manchin mention that such an appointment for his wife would be appreciated? We won’t know that. Will he recuse himself from voting in favor of his wife’s nomination? I’d be surprised if he did. She will probably sail through a Senate vote. Senators love to vote in favor of former senators and for family members of other senators. The Senate is a club. Frankly, the nomination likely has Jill Biden’s fingerprints all over it. Mrs. Manchin’s career has been in education and we know Jill promised teacher unions that they would have an advocate living in the White House. The nomination is a win for both Bidens.
Joe Biden needs Joe Manchin to support his leftist agenda which includes gun control and ending the filibuster. Manchin is not inclined to support either of those goals. Without destroying the filibuster, it is unlikely that Biden will be able to ram through his agenda. Biden also is desperate to do all he can to federalize elections and push election reform legislation that will help Democrats attain and keep a permanent majority. Manchin admits that he has no problems gaining access to Biden at any time. Of course, he hasn’t. Biden is old and feeble but he isn’t stupid.
“I’ve never had a problem getting ahold of the president when I’ve needed him,” Sen. Manchin told Forbes on Wednesday as many key Republican senators, including McConnell, complained they haven’t heard from Biden since the inauguration. “When I need him, he’s there,” he added.
As I noted above, at first glance Mrs. Manchin’s nomination looks like a wink and a nod to Senator Manchin. Joe Biden ran on bringing ‘normalcy’ back to Washington. This nomination is exactly that – it is not the first time a president has shown favor to a lawmaker’s spouse or close family member to curry favor. Even an outsider like Trump did it, too. Trump put Midnight Mitch’s wife, Elaine Chao in his cabinet as secretary of transportation. I would argue that her appointment made more sense because of Chao’s experience in the George W. Bush administration where she served as secretary of labor. It’s the standard operating procedure. Mitch McConnell worked hard to get through all those Trump judicial nominations as well as the Supreme Court nominees. The political effect of that work will be seen for decades.
Joe Manchin voiced concerns about the horrendous $1.9T “COVID” stimulus package but after winning some concessions from the White House, he voted with all the other Senate Democrats to pass the bill. That is likely what we’ll see going forward. He talks a good game, especially during interviews on Fox News to play to moderates but in the end, he is still a Democrat. The Appalachian Regional Commission has a budget of about $165M. The commission includes the governors of each of the 13 Appalachian states. This is a plum position for the Manchin family. It’s business as usual in Washington, D.C.