Senator McConnell and Representative Rogers Introduce Bill to Reform Appalachian Regional Commission
Sep 19 2017
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and U.S. Representative Harold “Hal" Rogers (R-KY-05) today introduced the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) Reform Act, which would reform the Commission to focus its mission on investing more in the poorest Appalachia communities.
The McConnell/Rogers bill would move ARC’s headquarters from Washington, DC to a location in Appalachia. Every other regional commission has its headquarters in its respective region, thereby reducing administrative overhead costs and making the commissions closer and more accountable to the people and communities they serve.
The bill also would increase ARC funding to distressed counties under its Area Development Program. Currently, the most distressed counties in the region can only receive up to 30 percent of ARC’s area development funds. The McConnell/Rogers bill would increase that allocation to 60 percent for such projects in the poorest counties. Given the persistent levels of poverty in the distressed counties in the Appalachian region, more area development funding and emphasis should be devoted to these counties.
ARC also would be required to submit an annual report to Congress regarding its allocated funds, in dollar amounts and percentage of total appropriations, to distressed counties.
“For decades, I have supported ARC and its mission to invest in communities to strengthen economic growth throughout the Appalachian region. However, as I have expressed before, I believe the commission can be improved and made more efficient,” Senator McConnell said. “I am proud to partner with my friend, Congressman Rogers, to introduce our bill to make desperately needed reforms at ARC and provide vital assistance to those who need it most.”
“The Appalachian Regional Commission has a critical task—to improve the lives of those who live across Appalachia. However, every President over the past four decades has worked to abolish the ARC, questioning things like waste and mismanagement at the agency, so it’s time for reform,” said Congressman Rogers, who introduced a companion reform bill in the House. “Senator McConnell and I structured this legislation to bring clear direction to the ARC, reviving its core mission to boost economic development and reduce poverty in our most distressed Appalachian counties through meaningful projects. Over the years, the ARC has provided a lifeline for vital programs in our communities, from connecting more families to clean water and sewer, to now helping rural communities transition into the complex digital economy. The bill refocuses their efforts and repositions the ARC directly in its service area to reduce operating expenses and provide better communication about needs in the region.”