President Trump intends to nominate Tim Thomas as federal co-chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission, according to a statement issued by the White House on Jan. 4. The decision requires Senate approval.
Trump initially proposed eliminating the ARC as part of his 2018 budget plan. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky publicly opposed the cut.
Thomas is currently a field representative on McConnell’s staff. Thomas previously served as a special assistant within the Kentucky Environmental Cabinet and executive director of the Kentucky Infrastructure Authority, which helps finance the state’s expansion of water and wastewater facilities.
The ARC is a regional economic development agency whose efforts span 13 states. Among its projects is the Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization Initiative, which has invested $94 million in diversifying the economies of 250 coal-impacted counties since October 2015, according to the ARC website.
McConnell and Kentucky U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers are pushing to reallocate ARC funding to “the poorest communities” and potentially move the agency’s headquarters out of Washington and into Appalachia as part of the ARC Reform Act, according to a press release issued by Rogers’ office.