Senators on the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee praised the nomination of Jennifer Clyburn Reed, daughter of House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), to serve as the first federal co-chair of the Southeast Regional Crescent Commission.
Clyburn himself looked on during the Oct. 27 hearing from the live audience.
The commission, which was authorized in 2008, is intended to parallel the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), an economic development organization first established by President John F. Kennedy in 1963. Since May 6, 2021, ARC’s federal co-chair has been Gayle Manchin, wife of Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).
Reed’s appointment would potentially enable the Senate to appropriate much larger amounts of money to the commission.
President Biden’s May 2021 budget proposal, announced after Manchin’s appointment, included $235 million for ARC.
“Having her [Clyburn Reed] in this role will allow this agency to fully commit its resources toward addressing economically distressed areas across parts of Virginia, the Carolinas, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida,” said EPW Chair Tom Carper (D-Del.) in his opening remarks.
Carper also alluded warmly to his personal relationship with Reed’s father, the second-most powerful Democrat in the House after Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
“I like to say that we can see his [House Whip Clyburn’s] lips move when you speak—but with a mask on, we won’t see his lips move at all,” said Carper.
In her opening remarks, Ranking Member Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) discussed Reed’s background in education, which includes many years as a public school teacher and an Ed.D. degree from Nova Southeastern University.
Reed’s profile at the Together Southeastern Summit adds that she graduated from the James E. Clyburn Political Fellowship, named for her father, “where she was voted Class President of the 2019 cohort.”
Capito did not immediately respond to questions from The Epoch Times about Reed’s background, particularly her status as the daughter of a powerful congressman, and on the additional spending her appointment could trigger.
“If afforded the opportunity to serve, I pledge to prove your confidence well spent, and do my family and friends proud,” Reed said in her opening remarks.
“The formula used to target counties through Congressman Clyburn’s 10/20/30 plan states that 10 percent of certain appropriated funds be targeted to persistent poverty communities, identified by the Census Bureau, where 20 percent or more of the population has lived at or below the poverty level for 30 or more years,” Reed later added.
She then stated that 92 of the 407 ‘persistent poverty counties’ identified by the Congressional Research Service would be covered by the Southeast Crescent Regional Commission.
When later asked by Carper about what, specifically, she would do to help people in the region, Reed emphasized broadband ‘last mile’ connectivity.
She also told Carper that the commission could be aided by the appropriation of funds from EPW and Congress as a whole, “to get this commission off the ground.”
Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) took the opportunity to praise Reed’s father.
“Unfortunately, I only served with your father for a year and a half, but that was a very rewarding year and a half, and I consider him to have remained a good friend in that time,” Inhofe told Reed.
In response to questions from Capito about how she would prioritize economic development in “persistent poverty counties,” Reed said she would consult with ARC’s Gayle Connelly Manchin.
Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) also offered his “wholehearted support” to Reed.
“I have known her and her family quite a while,” said Graham. “This is an excellent choice.”
Senators have until close of business on Wednesday, Nov. 3 to submit additional questions for Reed, who will have to reply by Wednesday, Nov. 10.