POLITICS
07/11/2013 12:08 pm ET Updated Jul 11, 2013

Mark Sanford, Appalachian Trail Lover, Pushes To Defund Appalachian Regional Commission

Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) is getting a helping hand from Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) in his push for an amendment to defund the Appalachian Regional Commission, which is designed to promote economic development in the underserved region.

On Wednesday night, Chabot went on the House floor and argued that the Appalachian Regional Commission and a handful of other similar commissions are wasteful and duplicative.

"Year after year, we hear about the inefficiency and waste that is occurring within these programs," he said. "This inefficiency, duplication and overlap have cost the taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars over the years. These commissions were established for one purpose: economic development. Yet the CBO [Congressional Budget Office] and other organizations have found no factual evidence that these commissions have created jobs or improved education or health care."

But even before he made his case, Chabot thanked Sanford, the politician who is perhaps most associated with the Appalachian region.

"I want to thank the gentleman from South Carolina, Mr. Sanford, for his leadership in co-sponsoring this particular amendment with me," said Chabot.

Sanford, of course, disappeared from his official duties as South Carolina governor for six days in June 2009. His spokesman at the time claimed Sanford -- an "avid outdoorsman" -- was hiking the Appalachian Trail. The governor, however, had actually gone to Argentina to see his mistress.

After Chabot spoke, Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) rose and spoke against the amendment, saying the Appalachian Regional Commission is still sorely needed. She said this lesson hit home for her when she went to southeast Ohio, part of the Appalachian region, for the funeral of former Rep. Charlie Wilson (D-Ohio).

Kaptur said it was difficult "just to try to move through the territory and get to where we were going."

"The Appalachian Regional Commission provides a mechanism -- now going over several decades really -- that has truly made a difference. But I can guarantee you, for the parts of Ohio that are included in its boundaries, the work is not finished," she said.

"So I just want to say that I don't know what motivates the gentleman's amendment this evening, but I really do think it would hurt Ohio," Kaptur added.

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