The Delta Grassroots Caucus (DGC) is a broad coalition of grassroots leaders in the eight-state Delta region. DGC is also a founding partner of the Economic Equality Caucus,
which advocates for economic equality across the USA.

May 17-18 Economic Equality Caucus in DC, & Policy Recommendations Memorandum

Posted on May 15, 2017 at 06:51 PM

UPDATED MAY 28, 2017

We had a jam-packed agenda for the May 17-18 Economic Equality Caucus (EEC)in Washington, DC with Members of Congress, grassroots advocates and major policy organizations. We include below a policy recommendations memorandum and the agenda for the conference.

The Delta Caucus and our national affiliate, the Economic Equality Caucus, circulated the memo to Members of Congress and other officials at the recent May 17-18 Washington, DC conference.

Economic Opportunity and Equality in America

Recommendations from the Legislative Action Committee

We do not expect all of our colleagues to agree with all of these policy recommendations, but after consulting with many partners across the country we believe that most of these recommendations have widespread support. We have a duty to come up with recommendations of our own for Congress, the Trump administration, state and local leaders.

May 26, 2017

Major populations of our country lag far behind the rest of America economically, such as the Greater Delta Region, Appalachia, the Southwest Border, parts of the Midwest, Native Americans, and inner cities.

Poverty rates for women and children across the country are far higher than for the rest of the population, and neglect of our veterans is a national shame. There are deep concerns about Trump administration proposed budget cuts to hunger and nutrition, health care, education, job creation, infrastructure programs among many leaders in both parties. We would strongly advise against major cuts to vital programs that have gained bipartisan support for many years.

While the Virginia/Washington, DC/Maryland region is for the most part relatively prosperous as of today, our coalition expresses grave concerns about the disproportionately harmful impact the Trump budget cuts would have on this region.

Not only does this area face the same cuts to vital safety net programs as the rest of the country, but the huge federal government job layoffs are especially harmful to this region, the threat to eliminate federal funding for the Chesapeake Bay restoration program is detrimental environmentally and economically, and Trump administration civil rights policies pose special risks for this region with its highly diverse population having many African Americans, Hispanics, Asian Americans and other minorities.

A bipartisan initiative that will not increase federal spending but channel funding where it is most needed: We would like to single out our endorsement of the bipartisan “10-20-30” plan championed by Congressman James Clyburn (D-South Carolina) and Congressman Hal Rogers (R-Kentucky) for all federal programs related to economic development. This requires 10 percent of federal funding to persistent poverty local areas where 20% of the population has lived in poverty for over 30 years. This would not add any federal spending but just assure that those who need it most get their fair share of federal investments.

A. Job creation/retention at living wage levels:

• Supporting and expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit, which has taken millions out of poverty;

• Expanding the Community Reinvestment Act and Community Development Financial Institutions;

• Invigorating small business job growth, the most dynamic engine for economic growth—especially at SBA and similar programs such as the Economic Development Administration;

• Investing in transportation and other critical infrastructure including housing and broadband to create jobs and improve our deteriorating highways, bridges and access to the Internet;

• Increasing the federal minimum wage. America’s largest employer, Wal-Mart, raised its wages in 2015, and many other states and local areas did so in 2016. Data overwhelmingly shows that when many states set their minimum wages above the federal level, there is little or no impact as far as their losing jobs to lower wage states, while paying workers better reduces turnover and generates higher productivity. Higher wages are not only just, but are sound economically.

B. Health care, nutrition and education:

• Women and children have uniquely high poverty rates, which must be reduced by requiring equal pay for equal work, health and nutrition programs for women and children, greater stress on reducing domestic violence, teen pregnancy and pre-natal programs, and on policies promoting expanded professional opportunities in business, elected office, nonprofits and the professions for women;

• Supporting increased funding for Education/workforce development, including relief for the exorbitant costs of student loans for college;

• Full funding for SNAP, school meals, WIC and other major nutrition programs that are the vital safety net against hunger and prevent health care problems,

• Fully funding USDA Rural Development programs in housing, water and other infrastructure, broadband access, renewable energy, small business for rural areas;

• Preserving the basic gains of the Affordable Care Act, with leeway for the modified versions such as Arkansas’ innovative program and other innovative state initiatives;

• Fully funding AmeriCorps to further fight poverty and boost opportunity, aid education, help seniors, work in disaster relief, and enhance public lands. AmeriCorps participants perform this service while earning payments for job training, college, home ownership, or starting a business.

C. Economic equality for economically distressed regions:

• Expanding key initiatives based on the Clinton administration’s New Markets Initiative. Creating an improved version of the New Markets Tax Credit to give tax incentives for investing in economically distressed areas. Simplifying the complex application process is essential.

• Eliminating or greatly reducing the local matching grant requirements for the poorest counties, which do not even have the funds for the relatively small local funding requirement and thus miss out on larger amounts of funding. Funding for regional commissions aiding economically distressed areas such as the Appalachian Regional Commission and Delta Regional Authority should be preserved and given larger levels of funding–the DRA especially has historically been severely under-funded. A starting point for recommendation is that the poorest 100 counties pay no local matching grant, the next 100 a greatly reduced amount; the next poorest 100 counties pay a lesser reduced amount for local matching requirements;

• Providing Veterans with strong safety net programs for job training, physical and mental health care, substance abuse treatment, and housing for the huge number of veterans who served our country bravely in two major recent wars and many other areas across the globe.

• Trade: Job training and other programs for workers losing their jobs due to changing trade patterns, as well as labor and environmental safeguards for free trade agreements.

• Opening up trade in food and other exports to Cuba. The failed embargo has been in place for a half century. This is sound national policy in weakening the Cuban dictatorship by exposing their people to the benefits of the free enterprise system, while opening up new markets for American products;

• We supported the dislocated worker program to help those thrown out of work due to changing patterns of international trade. Any trade agreements must include strong labor, environmental, and intellectual property safeguards,

D. Implementing tax reform for lower to middle income working families,

• Creating new fees on financial transactions for wealthy Wall Street speculators.

• Reducing income taxes for those in the income brackets from $18,000 to $75,000, graduated for the number in each family.

• Removing huge tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans in the top 1 percent. Income inequality is extreme and spiraling out of control.

• Reversing tax inequity: the wealthiest 8 Americans increased their wealth by $87 billion in 2014, which is more money than America spent on SNAP (food stamps) that year.

• Returning the tax code to its structure of the 1970s, or at a minimum to where it stood at the end of the Clinton administration. If the tax code of the 1970s had continued, as of 2016 the wealthiest 1% would have had $1 trillion less and working families would have $1 trillion more.

• Doubling the child care tax credit.

Voting rights:

Economic equality is advanced if everybody has equal rights to participate in the democratic process. We support the right to vote for all Americans regardless of income, racial or ethnic group, gender, or other status. This includes voting rights for Hispanics and a legal path to citizenship.

While employment and economic growth are on the rebound, this expanded tax revenue will afford investments in more economic equality for hard-working families in lower to middle ranges. Sound job growth investments are self-sustaining financially due to the increases in tax revenue they generate.

AGENDA FOR MAY 17-18, 2017 ECONOMIC EQUALITY CAUCUS ON CAPITOL HILL IN WASHINGTON, DC

OPENING SESSION: Wednesday late afternoon, May 17 at 4:30 p.m., House Rayburn building Room 2060, session continues until about 7:15 p.m.

Senate session, Thursday morning May 18, 8:30 a.m., Senate Russell Building Room 385, session continues until about 10:30 a.m.

THURSDAY MAY 18 LUNCHEON AND EARLY AFTERNOON–at 11 a.m. we start serving lunch and getting seated, and the speakers begin promptly at 11:30 a.m., Lutheran Church of the Reformation on Capitol Hill near Supreme Court (212 E. Capitol), session continues to about 2:30 p.m.

Have your voices heard, regardless of what your point of view is: We had a wide range of points of view represented at this conference. If you are disturbed about President Trump’s proposals to cut vital programs for job creation, USDA, health care, education, and other major initiatives, then contact Congress and the Trump administration and have your voices heard.

We heard from opponents of the Trump administration policies as well as speakers who are supportive of the Trump administration, and we want to have a dialogue with them all regardless of their points of view.

At this conference we paid tribute to the memory of the late Sam Scruggs, Executive Director of the great nonprofit, Mississippi County Arkansas Economic Opportunity Commission in northeast Arkansas, who passed away early in 2017 after a lifetime of distinguished leadership for the community and economic progress of the Greater Delta Region

Broad scope encompassing most of the major regions across the country: At this conference we heard from representatives of major regions across the country, especially from populations and regions threatened either by current economic conditions or by proposed budget cuts from the Trump administration, including the Southwest, Appalachia, Greater Delta region, parts of the Midwest, Native Americans, and the Washington, DC/Virginia/Maryland region that is particularly threatened by the administration’s budget proposals.

Special concerns for the Virginia/DC/MD region by the proposed Trump administration budget cuts: The Virginia/Washington, DC/Maryland region is currently much more prosperous than the other regions cited, but the Trump budget is especially disturbing for this region, because the vital cuts to safety net programs are compounded by huge federal government job layoffs that would disproportionately harm this region, by the threat to eliminate federal funds for the Chesapeake Bay restoration program, and the highly diverse population in this region creates concerns from the Trump administration policies regarding civil rights/diversity.

We want to examine these controversial budget proposals in a thoughtful, factual way.

We would also encourage President Trump and Congress to follow through on their promises for a major investment program in transportation, housing, broadband and other infrastructure, which is sorely needed. If they follow through regarding infrastructure, our partners will strongly support them, provided that it is a real infrastructure program and not just more rhetoric.

Economic Equality Caucus Conference

“Jobs, Health Care, Infrastructure, Diversity”

May 17-18, 2017, Washington, DC

OPENING SESSION, US HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES RAYBURN BUILDING ROOM 2060, WEDNESDAY MAY 17, 2017, 4:30 p.m. to 7:20 p.m.

“Best Practices in Community and Economic Development”

MODERATORS–Lee Powell, Economic Equality Caucus Co-Chair and Director of the Delta Grassroots Caucus, Washington, DC region; and Millie Atkins, Economic Equality Caucus Co-Chair and community leader from Monroe, Louisiana

4:45 p.m. –Randy Henderson, Nucor Yamato Steel and Nucor Steel of Arkansas, Blytheville Arkansas

5 P.M. TO 5:15 P.M.–Ilene Jacobs, Director of Litigation, Advocacy & Training, California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc. (state-wide organization in California)

AT 5:15 P.M.–CONGRESSMAN DON BEYER OF VIRGINIA

  1. Giev Kashkooli, United Farm Workers; national official based in Washington, DC; Organization for farm workers across the country–this is the organization founded by Cesar Chavez)

  2. Katrin Sirje Kark, Program Officer, Rural Local Initiatives Support Corp. (LISC); focusing on LISC’s work in Appalachia

  3. Stephen Sugg, government relations manager, national Housing Assistance Council or another representative from HAC, a major national anti-poverty organization active in the Southwest Border, Delta, Midwest, Appalachia and other regions

  4. Cornel Martin, CEO, Delta Queen Steamboat Company, New Orleans (promoting bill to allow Delta Queen to travel the Mississippi River and its tributaries once again

CONGRESSMAN RICK CRAWFORD OF ARKANSAS SCHEDULED TO SPEAK AT 6 P.M.

Introduction of Rep. Crawford by Harvey Joe Sanner, President, American Agriculture Movement of Arkansas, Des Arc, Arkansas, and senior Delta Caucus agriculture policy adviser.

  1. Alan Gumbel, President, Gumbel & Associates, Memphis, Tennessee, workforce development consultant; long-time Delta grassroots leader including work with Lower Mississippi Delta Development Commission 1988-90, the Clinton administration Delta Regional Initiative; and the Delta Grassroots Caucus

  2. Warwick Sabin, Senior Director, US Programs of Winrock International, national nonprofit; Mr. Sabin is a state Representative in Arkansas

THURSDAY MORNING SENATE SESSION, MAY 18, 8:30 A.M. TO 10;30 A.M. SENATE RUSSELL BUILDING CAUCUS ROOM 385

“Hunger, Nutrition, Rural Development Infrastructure and USDA Programs”

1.Jensyn Hallett, Heifer International US Domestic Programs in Arkansas and Appalachia

  1. Patty Barker, Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance

  2. Shannon Maynard, Executive Director, Congressional Hunger Center, bipartisan Congressional office devoted to developing hunger and nutrition policy experts and advocacy on nutrition issues

  3. Duke Storen, Senior Director of Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry Campaign

  4. Natalie Jayroe, CEO, Second Harvest Food Bank of Greater New Orleans and Acadiana, Louisiana

SEN. JOHN BOOZMAN OF ARKANSAS, CO-CHAIR OF THE US SENATE HUNGER CAUCUS SPEAKS AT 9:30 A.M.

SEN. ROGER WICKER OF MISSISSIPPI, 9:45 A.M.

Continue reading...

Agenda for May 17-18 Economic Equality Caucus in Washington, DC

Posted on May 05, 2017 at 01:06 PM

We are sending out a draft of the agenda for the May 17-18 Economic Equality Caucus on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. We will have Members of Congress from both parties, national policy organizations, and grassroots advocates from across the country.

Please note that Members of Congress and other speakers with hectic, unpredictable schedules frequently have to make last-minute changes, so there may have to be last minute adjustments in the schedule.

Have your voices heard, regardless of what your point of view is: We will have a wide range of points of view represented at this conference.

If you are disturbed about President Trump’s proposals to cut vital programs for job creation, USDA, health care, education, and other major initiatives, then come to Capitol Hill and have your voices heard. We will also hear from speakers who are supportive of the Trump administration, and we want to have a dialogue with them all regardless of their points of view.

At this conference we are paying tribute to the memory of the late Sam Scruggs, Executive Director of the great nonprofit, Mississippi County Arkansas Economic Opportunity Commission in northeast Arkansas, who passed away early in 2017 after a lifetime of distinguished leadership for the community and economic progress of the Greater Delta Region

Broad scope encompassing most of the major regions across the country: At this conference we will hear from representatives of major regions across the country, especially from populations and regions threatened either by current economic conditions or by proposed budget cuts from the Trump administration, including the Southwest, Appalachia, Greater Delta region, parts of the Midwest, Native Americans, and the Washington, DC/Virginia/Maryland region that is particularly threatened by the administration’s budget proposals.

Special concerns for the Virginia/DC/MD region by the proposed Trump administration budget cuts: The Virginia/Washington, DC/Maryland region is currently much more prosperous than the other regions cited, but the Trump budget is especially disturbing for this region, because the vital cuts to safety net programs are compounded by huge federal government job layoffs that would disproportionately harm this region, by the threat to eliminate federal funds for the Chesapeake Bay restoration program, and the highly diverse population in this region creates concerns from the Trump administration policies regarding civil rights/diversity.

We want to examine these controversial budget proposals in a thoughtful, factual way.

We would encourage President Trump and Congress to follow through on their promises for a major investment program in transportation, housing, broadband and other infrastructure, which is sorely needed. If they follow through regarding infrastructure, our partners will strongly support them, provided that it is a real infrastructure program and not just more rhetoric.

Economic Equality Caucus Conference “Jobs, Health Care, Infrastructure, Diversity” May 17-18, 2017, Washington, DC

OPENING SESSION, US HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES RAYBURN BUILDING ROOM 2060, WEDNESDAY MAY 17, 2017, 4:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m.

MODERATORS–Lee Powell, Economic Equality Caucus Co-Chair and Director of the Delta Grassroots Caucus, Washington, DC region; and Millie Atkins, Economic Equality Caucus Co-Chair and community leader from Monroe, Louisiana

4:45 p.m. –Randy Henderson, Nucor Yamato Steel and Nucor Steel of Arkansas, Blytheville Arkansas

5 P.M. TO 5:15 P.M.–Ilene Jacobs, Director of Litigation, Advocacy & Training, California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc. (state-wide organization in California)

W. Ron Allen, Chairman of Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe in Washington state, National Treasurer, National Congress of American Indians (the largest Native American organization in the USA)

AT 5:15 P.M.–CONGRESSMAN DON BEYER OF VIRGINIA

Giev Kashkooli, United Farm Workers; national official based in Washington, DC; Organization for farm workers across the country–this is the organization founded by Cesar Chavez

Katrin Sirje Kark, Program Officer, Rural Local Initiatives Support Corp. (LISC); focusing on LISC’s work in Appalachia

Stephen Sugg, National Housing Assistance Council’s Government Relations Manager; a major national organization active in the Southwest Border, Delta, Midwest, Appalachia and other regions

Cornel Martin, CEO, Delta Queen Steamboat Company, New Orleans (promoting bill to allow Delta Queen to travel the Mississippi River and its tributaries once again

CONGRESSMAN RICK CRAWFORD OF ARKANSAS SCHEDULED TO SPEAK AT 6 P.M.

Introduction of Rep. Crawford by Harvey Joe Sanner, President, American Agriculture Movement of Arkansas, Des Arc, Arkansas, and senior Delta Caucus agriculture policy adviser.

Alan Gumbel, President, Gumbel & Associates, Memphis, Tennessee, workforce development consultant; long-time Delta grassroots leader including work with Lower Mississippi Delta Development Commission 1988-90, the Clinton administration Delta Regional Initiative; and the Delta Grassroots Caucus

Warwick Sabin, Senior Director, US Programs of Winrock International, national nonprofit; Mr. Sabin is a state Representative in Arkansas

THURSDAY MORNING SENATE SESSION, MAY 18, 8:30 A.M. TO 10;30 A.M. SENATE RUSSELL BUILDING CAUCUS ROOM 385

“Hunger, Nutrition, Rural Development Infrastructure and USDA Programs”

Jensyn Hallett, Heifer International US Domestic Programs in Arkansas and Appalachia

Patty Barker, Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance

Shannon Maynard, Executive Director, Congressional Hunger Center, bipartisan Congressional office devoted to developing hunger and nutrition policy experts and advocacy on nutrition issues

Duke Storen, Senior Director of Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry Campaign

Natalie Jayroe, CEO, Second Harvest Food Bank of Greater New Orleans and Acadiana, Louisiana

SEN. JOHN BOOZMAN OF ARKANSAS, CO-CHAIR OF THE US SENATE HUNGER CAUCUS SPEAKS AT 9:30 A.M.

SEN. ROGER WICKER OF MISSISSIPPI, 9:45 A.M.

Michael Wilson, Director of Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) Maryland organization, Maryland Hunger Solutions, Baltimore Maryland

CLOSING AND MAIN SESSION–THURSDAY LUNCH AND EARLY AFTERNOON, MAY 18, LUTHERAN CHURCH OF THE REFORMATION NEAR US SUPREME COURT, 11:30 A.M. TO 2:30 P.M.

“The Trump Budget Cuts and Their Impact Nationally as Well as on the Virginia/DC/Maryland Region”

BEGIN AT 11:30 A.M.–Kimberly Adams, teacher and former President, Fairfax Virginia Education Association, Democratic Candidate for Congress, 10th District of Virginia

Kevin Hickerson, Virginia Education Association, President, Fairfax Education Association

NOON to 12:20–Joel Berg, CEO, Hunger Free America–national foundation based in New York, former Clinton administration Presidential appointee, nationally recognized economic equality expert

12:20 to 12:40-(INVITED) Sen. Jennifer Wexton, D-Virginia; Candidate for 10th Congressional District in Virginia

(ALSO INVITED) Congresswoman Barbara Comstock (R-VA)

12:40 to 12:50–Sen. Barbara Favola, Virginia state senator from Arlington, northern Virginia

12:50 to 1 p.m. Walter Tejada, President, Virginia Latino Leaders Council

CONGRESSMAN JAMES CLYBURN OF SOUTH CAROLINA, THIRD RANKING NATIONAL LEADER IN THE HOUSE, IS SCHEDULED FOR 1 P.M.

1:20 p.m. to 1:30 p.m., Jennifer Allen, CEO, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia

1:30 to 1:40 p.m.–Mike Town, Executive Director, Virginia League of Conservation Voters

1:40 p.m. to 1:50 p.m.– Edsel Brown, Maryland NAACP Economic Development Chairman

1:50 p.m. to 2:10 p.m.–. Michael Curtin, CEO, DC Central Kitchen, nationally recognized nonprofit based in Washington, DC

2:20 to 2:30 p.m.– Lisa Oelfke, health care expert with the state of Maryland with direct experience implementing the Affordabe Care Act

2:30 p.m. to 2:40 p.m.–Nicole Brown, CEO, Carter Enterprise Solutions, Maryland minority businesswoman, addressing Trump administration’s proposed cuts to programs providing incentives for minority small business

Closing remarks–Rodney Fisher, Education policy expert, Alexandria, Virginia, former aide to US Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) and four Commissioners of Education in Texas

**Sponsors for the Economic Equality Caucus Conference May 17-18, 2017, Washington, DC**

Tribute to the late, great Sam Scruggs

At this conference we are paying tribute to the memory of the late Sam Scruggs, Executive Director of the great nonprofit, Mississippi County Arkansas Economic Opportunity Commission in northeast Arkansas, who passed away early in 2017 after a lifetime of distinguished leadership for the community and economic progress of the Greater Delta Region

Lead Sponsor

Nucor Yamato Steel and Nucor Steel of Arkansas

Major Co-Sponsors

Heifer International

Mississippi County AR Economic Opportunity Commission, Blytheville, Arkansas

Sponsors

Kay Goss, author, educator, Associate Director of FEMA for President Clinton, Emergency Manager

Sikeston, Missouri, Regional Chamber of Commerce

Wilson Golden, Board Member of the Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation at the University of Mississippi, Presidential appointee in the Clinton administration, now based in Georgia

American Agriculture Movement of Arkansas

First State Bank & Trust, Caruthersville, Missouri

Writing Our World Publishing, LLC

Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Arkansas

EEC Grassroots Partners

Last but not least, we would like to thank the literally hundreds of grassroots partners across the country for their many contributions of registration fees, annual membership dues or other voluntary donations in the amounts of $100, $75, $50 and $25. As a grassroots private sector coalition, we need to have a diversified financial base with large numbers of small contributions, and we could not do our work without these very numerous contributions.

Deadline Is April 17 for Registration, Group Hotel for Economic Equality event in DC, May 17-18

Posted on April 07, 2017 at 11:59 AM

The deadline for early registration and group hotel is April 17, Monday, close of business for Economic Equality Caucus on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on May 17-18. For those requiring airfare, of course you will get a much cheaper airfare if you make reservations today rather than later.

The group hotel Hilton Garden Inn at Reagan Airport (703) 920-8600 will likely not have any rooms if you call after the April 17 deadline and if there are you will not get the group discount rate of $199 (a low rate by springtime Washington, DC standards) for the EEC/Delta Caucus group.

REGISTRATION

After April 17, late registration fees are higher.

You register by sending in the early registration fees. Early Registration fees are $125 for attending both days of the conference or $100 for those who have paid their annual dues

GROUP DISCOUNTS: We will offer registration fee group discounts depending on the size of the group. For a group of five or more attendees the fees will be reduced to $75, and down to $50 for a group of 10.

You can pay the registration fees in two ways:

Go to the website and use the PayPal process at the top of the site at www.mdgc.us

Or

Send a check by mail. Please make out the check to “Delta Caucus” and mail to:

Delta Caucus

5030 Purslane Place

Waldorf, MD 20601

GROUP HOTEL:

To get the reduced group rate of $199 for the night of Wednesday May 17, please call the Hilton Garden Inn at Reagan airport at (703) 920-8600 and say you are with the Economic Equality Caucus/Delta Caucus group.

I. KEY ISSUES

Severe proposed budget cuts in the initial Trump administration budget statement have generated widespread concerns in both parties. Our partners are strongly supportive of full funding for USDA nutrition and rural development programs, LIHEAP, EDA, AmericCorps, medical research, the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Delta Regional Authority (DRA) and other regional commissions. No program is perfect but all of those have stood the test of time and are highly beneficial for working American families.

This is bipartisan and we welcome all points of view. Key issues will job creation at good wages and infrastructure investments, health care for underserved populations, public education, hunger and nutrition programs, civil rights/diversity at the bipartisan Economic Equality Caucus on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, May 17-18, 2017.

We are inviting officials of President Trump’s administration, Members of Congress from both parties, and grassroots economic and community development advocates for a dialogue on Capitol Hill. Whatever your views are regarding the Trump administration, come and make your voices heard in our nation’s capital. Key issues include:

The proposed $1 trillion program of investment for infrastructure to create jobs and improve our deteriorating infrastructure.

This is unusual in today’s contentious political environment in that both parties have pledged support for it, but we have to press them to follow through on the promises in a way that broadly benefits the economy. The President promised to do this, and now we need to press him and his administration to follow through.

Health care: The Affordable Care Act has provided health insurance to millions who never had it before. The initial effort to repeal it failed as we all know, but we want to keep the focus on this vital issue.

Education: a strong public education system and affordability for college are essential for a brighter economic future: If you have questions or concerns about what Trump’s controversial Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos will do for education in America, come to DC and express support for a strong public education system.

Hunger and nutrition, rural economic development: USDA’s SNAP, school meals, WIC and other hunger safety net programs are vital for millions of Americans every day; agriculture is a major part of the economy still, and the Rural Development programs are vital for housing, small business, and rural infrastructure. Convey to the new USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue your views on these programs.

Diversity/civil rights: We are a diverse grassroots coalition including women, African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, Asian Americans, rural America, and we support economic, racial and gender equality. If you are concerned about what the Trump administration might mean for diversity in America, come to DC for the EEC conference and make your voices heard.

Key populations and regions we are joining forces with are the Greater Delta Region from Illinois and Missouri to New Orleans, Appalachia, the Southwest Border, parts of the Midwest, New York, inner cities, and the Mid-Atlantic region of Virginia/Maryland/Washington, DC, which overall is relatively prosperous but also has areas of economic distress. Economic inequality is a national problem today.

“Double whammy” against the Virginia/Washington, DC/Maryland region posed by the Trump budget: The Washington Post described the Trump budget as a double whammy against this region due to the cuts to vital safety net programs that affects the entire country, but compounded by the massive proposed federal government layoffs that will be disproporionately harmful to this region due to the large number of federal government employees there.

The great majority of Members of Congress and administration officials do not confirm their exact speaking times until shortly before the conference, so the agenda cannot be determined until about three weeks before the event.

Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC), Rep. Rick Crawford (R-AR), and Sen. John Boozman (R-AR) are confirmed; invited are Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, (D-TX), Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM), Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY), Sen. Roger Wicker and Thad Cochran (R-MS); Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA), Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA); Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Rep. French Hill and Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA) and Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA)..

II. SCHEDULE

HOUSE SESSION: Wednesday evening, May 17, 2017, 4:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. The opening session is atthe US House of Representatives Rayburn building, Room 2060.

SENATE SESSION: Thursday morning, May 18, 2017, 8:30 a.m. to 10:45 a.m.; Senate Russell Building Caucus Room 385

CLOSING SESSION: Thursday afternoon, May 18, 2017, 11:45 a.m. to 2:45 p.m., Lutheran Church of the Reformation on Capitol Hill (212 E. Capitol)

III. GRASSROOTS PARTNERS

Nowadays, we often hear people complain about partisan gridlock in Washington, DC, or express disdain for either one or both of the major parties. Our response is that if you want to guarantee that gridlock and inaction persist, the surest way to get such a poor result is to give up on the democratic process and do nothing. Whatever your views, come to DC and give our elected officials an earful in person.

For this conference the Mid-Atlantic Region is one of the key regions, because of the double whammy described above posed by the Trump budget for this area. Although Virginia/Washington, DC/Maryland are relatively prosperous overall, even they have significant pockets of poverty. Economic inequality unfortunately is widespread across the country nowadays. With its dense population and many national organizations with headquarters in this area and, of course, proximity to Capitol Hill, this region has great potential for constructive activism for economic equality.

The Delta Caucus is a founding partner of the national EEC and is joining forces with similarly situated regions and populations across the country to amplify our voices in urging the national powers that be to take more effective action for those who have not shared equally in America’s prosperity and opportunity.

Grassroots participants who have already confirmed:

–Joel Berg, CEO, Hunger Free America, national anti-hunger organization based in New York, a nationally recognized expert on poverty and hunger in America who has often appeared on national news shows like CNN, FOX, ABC, CBS, MSNBC;

–The Housing Assistance Council, a national organization based in Washington, DC, Moises Loza, Executive Director;

–Katrin Sirje Kärk, Rural LISC; speaking aboutAppalachian Rural LISC project in Ohio, western Pennsylvania, western Maryland, West Virginia;

–Maryland NAACP officials from the venerable civil rights and justice organization with chapters across the country;

–Ilene Jacobs, senior attorney, California Rural Legal Aid, a program for lower-income people throughout the state of California;

–Patty Barker, Director, Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance’s No Kid Hungry Campaign;

–Michael Curtin, CEO, DC Central Kitchen, a nationally recognized nonprofit working on job training, food and nutrition issues;

–Heifer International, an internationally recognized anti-hunger and poverty organization;

–Randy Henderson, Nucor Yamato Steel Corp., Blytheville, Arkansas; a world class company that has enlightened corporate policies including high wages, never laying off employees even in recessions, generous training and education benefits, and community outreach;

Continue reading...

Senate Passes Bill 85-12 to Allow Historic Steamboat Delta Queen to Once Again Travel the Mississippi River & Tributaries

Posted on April 03, 2017 at 08:25 PM

WASHINGTON, DC: The US Senate passed the bill to permit the Delta Queen to once again travel the Mississippi River and its tributaries, in a major victory after many years of activism and lobbying by the Delta Caucus, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and other advocates for the historic steamboat.

Sen. John Boozman (R-AR), Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Sen. Blunt (R-Mo), Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Sen. Sherrod Brown (R-Ohio), Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) were among the key sponsors and leaders in the vote.

The bill now goes to the House, where a similar bill passed several years ago by a vote of 289 to 90 in 2013. The bill had been stalled in the Senate until tonight’s vote.

Please contact your US Representatives and tell them to vote for the bill to allow the Delta Queen to travel America’s inland waterways once again.

“We praise the Senate for this action. The Delta Caucus has joined forces with the National Trust for Historic Preservation and many other Delta Queen advocates for years now. With the overwhelming margin of this vote and the precedent of a similar bill having passed the House by a wide margin, the momentum is heavily in favor of the movement to save the Delta Queen,” said Lee Powell, Caucus Director.

This is a bipartisan effort including Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO), Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Sen. John Boozman (R-AR), Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Rep. Rick Crawford (R-AR) and many others.

“The Delta Caucus has lobbied for many years for this vote, but the key obstacle in recent years was that we had not been able to schedule a vote in the full Senate, with this being a relatively smaller-scale bill; but thanks to leadership from Sen. McCaskill, Sen. Blunt, Sen. McConnell, Sen. Boozman and others from both parties, the bill (S. Bill 89) to allow the Queen to travel once again on the Mississippi, Ohio, Arkansas and other major US rivers came to a full vote and won by a wide margin” said Lee Powell, Delta Caucus Director.

The DQ has been designated a National Historic Landmark, placing it back on the river is estimated to create over 150 jobs, it will generate tourist dollars in the 80 river ports where it will stop, and it has an exemplary safety record in having been operated safely on America’s inland waterways for over 80 years, according to Cornel Martin, owner of the Delta Queen Steamboat Company.

To add additional layers of safety to a boat that has an exemplary safety record, the legislation requires that 10% of the upper portions of the boat that contain wood must be modified each year. The Delta Queen has a steel hull, 75% of its total weight is of steel or other non-combustible materials,(with approximately 25% of the weight being wood) and it has state of the art sprinkler systems and other safeguards.

The Coast Guard assures that there cannot be any safety issue, because the Guard has to do a rigorous safety inspection annually to grant a cerfificate of exemption, in addition to quarterly inspections and random inspections. If the Coast Guard finds any safety issues, the boat can’t move an inch off the dock.

Sen. John Boozman (R-AR) said “Allowing the iconic Delta Queen to operate again will promote job creation and allow tourists to experience this historic treasure while supporting the economies of communities along the Mississippi River and its tributaries. I’m pleased my Senate colleagues supported this long overdue legislation,” Boozman said.

Rep. Rick Crawford (R-AR) said “With the Delta Queen’s rich history and the potential for new economic growth along the Mississippi river, this legislation has earned staunch support year after year. I have confidence that the House will pass the Delta Queen bill, and we will see her cruising on America’s major water ways once again.” -

The Safety of Life At Sea Act of 1966 (our italics for “At Sea”) was intended to cover ocean-going vessels, not riverboats that are never more than a few minutes from land. Due to this fact and the Delta Queen’s longstanding excellent safety record, Congress passed exemptions for the Queen from the 1960s until 2008, when a dispute between the Seafarers International Union and the former owners of the boat broke out. The exemption was blocked at that time due to that dispute, but currently the union fully supports the legislation and works closely with Cornel Martin and the new ownership.

The legislation is supported by the Delta Caucus, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the American Maritime Officers, the Seafarers International Union and many other historic preservation organizations.

The bill spends no federal money but only allows the boat to operate on America’s rivers once again.

Martin said, “The Delta Queen offers the last opportunity for Americans and international visitors to cruise on an authentic 1927 steamboat, to see firsthand the natural landscapes along the Mississippi and other majestic rivers, and help preserve the great legacy of steamboating in America.”

Delta Queen ports of call will include communities from New Orleans, Natchez, Greenville, Helena, Pine Bluff, Little Rock, Memphis, Cape Girardeau, Ketucky, Ohio River stops to Cincinnati and Pittsburgh.

The exemption passed the US House of Representatives in 2013 by the wide margin of 280 to 89. It stalled in Senate committee in 2014, and there have been numerous delays since that time. The May 3, 2017 will be the first time the full Senate has voted on it in many years.

The center of opposition to the bill is led by a competing steamboat company, American Cruise Lines that operates out of offices in Connecticut and also owns a shipyard in Maryland. They have complained that if the Delta Queen is allowed to travel again it will harm their business, although there has been a major resurgence of steamboating on the Mississippi and its tributaries in recent years and there is plenty of room for a number of steamboats on our rivers.

American Cruise Lines’ lobbyist has also erroneously made charges about the safety of the Delta Queen, in spite of its excellent safety record over 80 years in its earlier history and the new layers of safety requirements that have been added to the legislation in recent years.

Martin’s Delta Queen Steamboat Company is conducting extensive renovations for the boat, which has been docked for about six years now and needs upgrades to get into traveling condition after having been stationary for so long. Martin will install new boilers, generators, make other overhauls, in addition to the new statutory requirement of modifying 19% of the wooden parts of the superstructure annually. Again, the Coast Guard has to conduct rigorous safety inspections of the Delta Queen, and the boat cannot travel one inch off the dock unless the Coast Guard allows it. A companion bill has been introduced in the House by US Rep. Steve Chabor (R-Ohio).

The boat is now docked in Houma, Louisiana near New Orleans. If the bill passes the headquarters will move to Kimmswick, Missouri, south of St. Louis.

Deadlines Soon on April 17 for Economic Equality Caucus in Washington, DC on May 17-18

Posted on March 31, 2017 at 12:45 PM

We are only six weeks away from the Economic Equality Caucus on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on May 17-18, with early registration and group hotel deadlines about two weeks away on close of business Monday, April 17. For those requiring airfare, of course you will get a much cheaper airfare if you make reservations today rather than later.

Severe proposed budget cuts in the initial Trump administration budget statement have generated widespread concerns in both parties and this will be addressed at the conference. We will have a dialogue with Members of Congress from both parties, Trump administration officials and grassroots advocates from across the country.

Our partners are strongly supportive of full funding for USDA nutrition and rural development programs, LIHEAP, EDA, AmericCorps, medical research, the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Delta Regional Authority (DRA) and other regional commissions. No program is perfect but all of these have stood the test of time, are highly beneficial for working American families, and their budgets should remain intact.

This is bipartisan and we welcome all points of view. Key issues will be job creation at good wages and infrastructure investments, health care for underserved populations, public education, hunger and nutrition programs, civil rights/diversity at the bipartisan Economic Equality Caucus on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, May 17-18, 2017.

We are inviting officials of President Trump’s administration, Members of Congress from both parties, and grassroots economic and community development advocates for a dialogue on Capitol Hill. Whatever your views are regarding the Trump administration, come and make your voices heard in our nation’s capital. Key issues include:

The proposed $1 trillion program of investment for infrastructure to create jobs and improve our deteriorating infrastructure. When originally presented, this was unusual in today’s contentious political environment in that both parties pledged support for it, but we have to press them to follow through on the promises in a way that broadly benefits the economy. Unless the administration budget proposal is changed it would be an obstacle to this program. The President promised to do this, and now we need to press him, his administration and Congress to deliver.

Health care: The Affordable Care Act has provided health insurance to millions who never had it before, although it needs substantial improvements and adjustments. The initial effort to repeal it failed as we all know, but there will be follow-up actions and we want to keep the focus on this vital issue.

Education: a strong public education system and affordability for college are essential for a brighter economic future: If you have questions or concerns about what Trump’s controversial Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos will do for education in America, come to DC and express support for a strong public education system.

Hunger and nutrition, rural economic development: USDA’s SNAP, school meals, WIC and other hunger safety net programs are vital for millions of Americans every day; agriculture is a major part of the economy still, and the Rural Development programs are vital for housing, small business, and rural infrastructure. Convey to the new USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue your views on these programs.

Diversity/civil rights: We are a diverse grassroots coalition including women, African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, Asian Americans, rural America, and we support economic, racial and gender equality. If you are concerned about what the Trump administration might mean for diversity in America, come to DC for the EEC conference and make your voices heard.

Key populations and regions we are joining forces with are the Greater Delta Region from Illinois and Missouri to New Orleans, Appalachia, the Southwest Border, parts of the Midwest, New York, inner cities, and the Mid-Atlantic region of Virginia/Maryland/Washington, DC, which overall is relatively prosperous but also has areas of economic distress. Economic inequality is a national problem today.

Lee Powell is temporarily sidelined with a respiratory infection, so for any questions right now please contact the EEC Co-Chairman and community leader from Monroe, Louisiana, Milly Atkins at milatkins@comcast.net or Harvey Joe Sanner, Delta Caucus senior partner and president of the American Ag Movement of Arkansas at sannerharveyjoe@gmail.com

The great majority of Members of Congress and administration officials do not confirm their exact speaking times until shortly before the conference, so the agenda cannot be determined until about three weeks before the event.

Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC), Rep. Rick Crawford (R-AR), and Sen. John Boozman (R-AR) are confirmed; invited are Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, (D-TX), Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY), Sen. Roger Wicker and Thad Cochran (R-MS); Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA), Rep. French Hill and Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-AR).

TABLE OF CONTENTS FOR THIS NEWSLETTER

I. SCHEDULE

II. REGISTRATION

III. GRASSROOTS PARTNERS

IV. GROUP HOTEL

I. SCHEDULE

HOUSE SESSION: Wednesday evening, May 17, 2017, 4:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. The opening session is atthe US House of Representatives Rayburn building, Room 2060.

SENATE SESSION: Thursday morning, May 18, 2017, 8:30 a.m. to 10:45 a.m.; Senate meeting room TBD (Senate Russell Building Caucus Room 385)

CLOSING SESSION: Thursday afternoon Luncheon and early afternoon, May 18, 2017, 11:45 a.m. to 2:45 p.m., Lutheran Church of the Reformation on Capitol Hill (212 E. Capitol)

II. REGISTRATION

You register by sending in the early registration fees.

Early Registration fees for attending both days of the conference are $125 each until April 21, 2017. Those who have paid their annual membership dues will receive a reduction down to $100 each.

GROUP DISCOUNTS:

We will offer registration fee group discounts depending on the size of the group. For a group of five or more attendees the fees will be reduced to $75, and down to $50 for a group of 10.

For a large group there will be a relatively small lump sum. Most people wish to attend most of the conference on both days, but for a small number who can only make one session we will pro-rate the registration fees, (minimum of $25).

For those who work in the local DC area and thus can only come to a part of the conference, a minimal pro-rated registration for a limited amount of time such as $25 will be asked.

Late registration fees: After April 21, 2017, registration fees are increased to $160 to provide an incentive to get the fees in on time.

Space is limited so please RSVP by sending in the registration fees ASAP.

You can pay the registration fees in two ways:

Go to the website and use the PayPal process at the top of the site at www.mdgc.us

Or

Send a check by mail. Please make out the check to “Delta Caucus” and mail to:

Delta Caucus

5030 Purslane Place

Waldorf, MD 20601

III. GRASSROOTS PARTNERS

Nowadays, we often hear people complain about partisan gridlock in Washington, DC, or express disdain for either one or both of the major parties. Our response is that if you want to guarantee that gridlock and inaction persist, the surest way to get such a poor result is to give up on the democratic process and do nothing. Whatever your views, come to DC and give our elected officials an earful in person.

For this conference the Mid-Atlantic Region is one of the key regions, because although Virginia/Washington, DC/Maryland are relatively prosperous overall, even they have significant pockets of poverty. Economic inequality unfortunately is widespread across the country nowadays. With its dense population and many national organizations with headquarters in this area and, of course, proximity to Capitol Hill, this region has great potential for constructive activism for economic equality.

The Delta Caucus is a founding partner of the national EEC and is joining forces with similarly situated regions and populations across the country to amplify our voices in urging the national powers that be to take more effective action for those who have not shared equally in America’s prosperity and opportunity. Grassroots participants who have already confirmed:

–Joel Berg, CEO, Hunger Free America, national anti-hunger organization based in New York, a nationally recognized expert on poverty and hunger in America who has often appeared on national news shows like CNN, FOX, ABC, CBS, MSNBC;

–The Housing Assistance Council, a national organization based in Washington, DC, Moises Loza, Executive Director;

–Katrin Sirje Kärk, Rural LISC; speaking aboutAppalachian Rural LISC project in Ohio, western Pennsylvania, western Maryland, West Virginia;

–NAACP officials from the venerable civil rights and justice organization with chapters across the country;

–Ilene Jacobs, senior attorney, California Rural Legal Aid, a program for lower-income people throughout the state of California;

–Patty Barker (SPEAKER) Director, Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance’s No Kid Hungry Campaign;

–Michael Curtin, CEO, DC Central Kitchen, a nationally recognized nonprofit working on job training, food and nutrition issues;

–Heifer International, an internationally recognized anti-hunger and poverty organization;

–Nucor Yamato Steel Corp., Blytheville, Arkansas; a world class company that has enlightened corporate policies including high wages, never laying off employees even in recessions, generous training and education benefits, and community outreach;

–Alan Gumbel, workforce development expert based in Memphis, Tennessee; veteran regional advocate for the Greater Delta Region going back to his days as an aide to the Lower Mississippi Delta Development Commission of the late 1980s, the Clinton administration’s Delta Regional Initiative, and a long-time senior partner of the Delta Grassroots Caucus;

–Millie Atkins, EEC Co-Chair, community leader in Monroe, Louisiana, with extensive experience in broadband expansion to underserved areas and education issues;

–The National Congress of American Indians, Jacqueline Pata, President; the largest organization representing the more than 5 million Native Americans in our country;

–Harvey Joe Sanner, president, American Agriculture Movement of Arkansas; veteran advocate for the Greater Delta Region and family farmers;

–Rodney Fisher, Alexandria, Virginia, education policy expert, former aide to then US Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX) and several governors of Texas;

–Gary Latanich, Professor Emeritus of Economics, Arkansas State University;

–Walter Tejada, president, Virginia Latino Leaders Council, northern Virginia;

–Ben Burkett, Southern Federation of Cooperatives; leader of African American farm family advocates in Mississippi;

–Connie Tuisku, Educator, West Palm Beach Community College, Florida;

–Sen. Barbara Favola (D-VA), distinguished leader on education, health care, women’s issues,

–Warwick Sabin, Senior Director, US Programs, Winrock International (nationally recognized nonprofit);

–Boys, Girls and Adults Community Development Corporation, award-winning nonprofit in Mississippi Delta region;

–Natalie Jayroe, CEO, Second Harvest Food Bank of Greater New Orleans and Acadiana, serving 23 parishes in Louisiana.

–Giev Kashkooli, United Farm Workers, organization representing farm workers across the country;

IV. GROUP HOTEL:

We have a group discount rate with the Hilton Garden Inn at Reagan National Airport at $199 for the night of May 17. Please call the hotel at (703) 920-8600 and say you are with the Economic Equality Caucus/Delta Caucus group to reserve your room at the discount rate by April 17.

The conference is scheduled so that people can save money by only having one hotel night to pay for. You can arrive Wednesday afternoon May 17 and check in and go to the opening session on Capitol Hill starting at 4:30 p.m. Then you can check out on the morning of May 18, store your luggage at the hotel if necessary, and go to the May 18 morning, lunch and early afternoon sessions.

The conference ends about 2:45 p.m. so you can get a flight back home that evening.

Spring is one of the busiest times of the year for Washington, DC so this is a relatively low rate for a hotel that is a short drive both from our meeting locations on Capitol Hill and to Reagan National Airport.

The deadline for the group hotel is close of business Monday, April 17. After that day there probably will not be any more spaces available, but if there are you will not get the discount rate.