“I can tell you as someone who has seen the benefit of the Appalachian Regional Commission, I’ve already reached out to try to share the benefits of that with the [Trump] administration, and how it has provided a critical component for some of the activity that we’ve done in Western North Carolina,” said Meadows, chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, in a conference call with reporters April 6.
For more than 50 years, the ARC has funded critical economic development and infrastructure projects through federal-state partnerships across West Virginia and parts of Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.
Trump’s budget seeks to defund the ARC completely, saving Americans about $140 million, or about $47 million more than the cost of the 59 Tomahawk missiles recently launched against Syria.
Meadows said he thought Trump’s proposed cuts to ARC didn’t reflect disappointments in how the ARC operated as much as they revealed his disdain for the supposed poor performance of similar organizations.
“I don’t know that it is as much a factor of what has happened here as it is some of the commissions not being quite as effective as the Appalachian Regional Commission has been,” he said.
But Meadows — who in principle should be as opposed to the ARC as he is to the Affordable Care Act — has surprisingly broken from his usual anti-big government stance, along with fellow Republican and Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, who’s Kentucky constituents receive plenty of funding from the ARC.
“Representing Western North Carolina, this is more a component of addressing this not from a partisan standpoint, but from a representative forum,” Meadows said. “I see it as being a critical component, and so I’m optimistic that my voice has been heard on that matter.”