Biden names wife of pivotal Democratic senator for federal post

Josh Wingrove

President Joe Biden plans to nominate Gayle Conelly Manchin – an educator and the wife of Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, a key swing vote – to a regional economic development position after the lawmaker has emerged as a key swing vote in the chamber.

The White House said Friday that Gayle Manchin is Biden’s pick for federal co-chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission, an economic development partnership between the federal government and 13 states, including West Virginia, where the senator and his wife reside.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) walks with his wife Gayle Conelly Manchin in the in the Senate subway at the U.S. Capitol on February 4, 2020 in Washington, DC.

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Gayle Manchin has served previously on the State Board of Education, and chairs Reconnecting McDowell, an initiative in West Virginia run by the American Federation of Teachers. She also served as secretary for the West Virginia Office of Education and the Arts and holds two graduate degrees. She and the senator have been married for 53 years.

Senator Manchin is the foremost Democratic swing vote in the chamber, which is evenly split between the parties but is controlled by Democrats because Vice President Kamala Harris breaks ties. As a result, Manchin holds significant sway in Biden’s ability to pass legislation.