The White House released President Trump’s wish-list for the federal budget on Thursday, and outlined in it, among other domestic-spending cuts, is a proposal to totally eliminate funding for 19 independent agencies. While Trump’s decision to cut the Corporation for Public Broadcasting— an agency dedicated to journalism—and the National Endowment for the Arts might not be entirely surprising, what is notable is his apparent desire to eliminate a federal agency created to improve the lives of many of his own supporters: the Appalachian Regional Commission.
The ARC was established by an act of Congress in 1965 as a federal-state partnership to promote economic growth in a region encompassing all of West Virginia and parts of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky, Alabama, Georgia, Maryland, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. Its footprint includes 420 counties and more than 25 million people.
The commission is made up of the 13 states’ governors, along with Federal Co-Chair Earl Gohl, who was appointed by President Obama in 2010. Their job is to approve funds for grants for hundreds of wide-ranging projects in the region every year: things like highway and sewer system improvement projects, technical education, and community health initiatives. The agency’s POWER initiative, which will celebrate its one-year anniversary on Friday, specifically targets communities affected by job losses in coal mining.