Sen. Warner met with ARC Co-Chair last month in his Senate office in Washington
WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) released the following statement after the U.S. Senate unanimously confirmed Tim Thomas, President Trump’s nominee to be the Federal Co-Chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission:
“I was proud to support Mr. Thomas’ nomination to lead federal efforts to foster economic development in Appalachia,” said Sen. Warner. “Despite the Administration’s attempt to defund the Appalachian Regional Commission, I worked with my colleagues on a bipartisan funding agreement this week that just increased its funding by $3 million—the highest level approved in decades. Now that he has been confirmed as its co-chair, I trust Mr. Thomas will carry out his duties with a clear focus on expanding economic opportunities in the region and I look forward to working together to achieve this.”
The Appalachian Regional Commission is a federal-state partnership that has invested in 25,000 projects across Appalachia’s 420 counties. For more than fifty years, ARC has provided funding and support for job-creating community projects across the 13 Appalachian states, producing an average of $204 million in annual earnings for a region often challenged by economic underdevelopment. Since its inception in 1965, ARC has generated over 300,000 jobs and $10 billion for the 25 million Americans living in Appalachia.
A bipartisan Congressional budget agreement passed by Congress this week included a $3 million increase in additional funding for ARC, for a total of $155 million in FY18. In his budget plan, President Trump had proposed eliminating funding for the ARC entirely. In response, Sen. Warner and a bipartisan coalition of Senators who represent Appalachian states called on President Trump to reverse his proposal to zero out funding for this important federal-state partnership. In 2017 alone, Sen. Warner announced over $7 million in ARC grant funding for projects in Virginia’s Appalachian counties.
Sen. Warner serves as a co-chair of the bipartisan Senate Appalachia Initiative, which has laid out a roadmap for bipartisan legislation to jumpstart economic growth in the region. He has introduced bipartisan legislation to support and encourage public-private partnerships in Appalachia that improve regional infrastructure, encourage entrepreneurship, and create jobs.
Mr. Thomas served on the state staff of U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell as a field representative based in the Senator’s Bowling Green office. A native Kentuckian, Thomas previously served in the administration of former Kentucky Governor Ernie Fletcher as a special assistant to the secretary of the Kentucky Environmental Cabinet, handling matters including legislative initiatives for the agency, according to the ARC In a meeting last month, Sen. Warner and Thomas discussed their shared priorities for Appalachia, including workforce development and combatting the opioid crisis.