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.

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;

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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.

USDA, LIHEAP, Medical Research, DRA, ARC Budgets Must Stay Strong--We Oppose Proposed Budget Cuts

Posted on March 16, 2017 at 02:59 PM

The Delta Caucus and Economic Equality Caucus partners join many Members of Congress of both parties and concerned citizens in raising deep objections to President Trump’s budget proposal to make massive cuts at USDA and eliminate meritorious programs such as the AmericaCorps National Service, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG), which funds many entities such as food banks and meals-on-wheels programs, the Appalachian Regional Commission and the Delta Regional Authority.

We will address these issues at the Economic Equality Caucus conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on May 17-18. Schedule, registration and group hotel information are below at the bottom of this message.

Huge cuts to medical research would be harmful to regions like the Delta that suffer from high levels of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer and other health maladies. We need to be investing in ways to find cures and reduce these severe problems, not making short-sighted cuts that will harm this region and the entire country in the long run.

USDA programs, Americorps, and LIHEAP are essential programs for millions of Americans. They should be fully funded, not slashed.

DRA deserves budget increases, not cuts: The DRA has only a relatively tiny budget (by federal government standards) of $28 million to promote economic development in eight states and 252 counties with a population of about 10 million people. Eliminating it would do nothing to curb federal deficit spending but would harm the small-scale but beneficial efforts of this agency.

The ARC is much larger than the DRA and has existed for 52 years and should continue, as should DRA, which is likely to become another success story similar to ARC if it survives to the ripe old age of 52. It is relatively new and was only created at the end of the Clinton administration in late 2000. It makes no sense to abolish these fine regional agencies. We have not agreed with everything the DRA has done (and you could say that about almost all government agencies), but the vast majority of its activities have been clearly beneficial.

These budget cuts would eliminate jobs and harm the economy, while being disproportionately damaging to rural America, which in most cases voted heavily in favor of President Trump and now would be harmed if his budget becomes a reality. As a matter of reality, many in Congress have already indicated that this budget is dead on arrival, but we need to stay vigilant and point out its disturbing flaws.

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is tremendously important for rural America, but its nutrition programs are vital for urban areas as well–yet USDA was targeted for cuts of $4.7 billion. With $993 million in cuts not even specified, we can expect many other proposed cuts will be on the way if this budget becomes a reality. USDA’s name is actually a misnomer, because 80% of its funding is for SNAP, school meals and other vital nutrition programs, as well as Rural Development programs.

The Trump budget would eliminate the $498 million USDA Water and Wastewater Disposal Loan and Grant program, which provides rural communities with funding for clean and reliable drinking water systems, sanitary sewage disposal, sanitary solid waste disposal, and storm water drainage.

Think about it–as Hunger Free America has argued–this is a tax increase disguised as a budget-cutting measure–because if the USDA Water and Wastewater Disposal Loan and Grant program is abolished, rural communities would either have to do without such these basic necessities or be forced to pay the costs by local tax increases.

Another cut is $95 million from the USDA Rural Business and Cooperative Service, which has the mission of creating rural jobs.

Delta Caucus Director Lee Powell was a Presidential appointee at USDA Rural Development in the Clinton administration, and can testify that its programs promote rural economic development, infrastructure, small business and renewable energy. “It will be harmful to millions of Americans in the Delta, Southwest Border, Appalachia, the Midwest, Native Americans, and other rural areas to make such irrational cuts in these fundamental USDA programs,” Powell said.

The AmeriCorps National Service Program is an exemplary initiative that creates community service jobs while enabling program participants from all economic backgrounds to help pay their way through college.

AmeriCorps has received strong support from Republican leaders like Haley Barbour of Mississippi, President George W. Bush, Sen. Orin Hatch, and Sen. John McCain–so this is hardly a program only endorsed by starry-eyed left-wingers.

According to Joel Berg, CEO of Hunger Free America who has long been a national leader for Americorps, said “AmeriCorps serves urban and suburban communities but is particularly adept at aiding underserved rural areas. Common sense efforts such as this – which create jobs while meeting critical community needs – should be expanded in a bi-partisan manner.”

Cuts to WIC: The Trump budget would take $200 million out of the USDA Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), a program which provides nutritional supplements to pregnant woman and children under five. Hunger Free America estimates that WIC has saved more than half a million U.S. children from dying at birth.

We would expect later attacks on the largest of the nutrition safety net programs–SNAP (food stamps) and school meals and other child nutrition programs. All of these proposed cuts must be rejected.

While our mission at the Delta and Economic Equality Caucus is to fight domestic poverty in the USA, we should not forget the impoverished and ignore some exemplary programs that have aided hungry people across the world. The Trump budget proposes to eliminate two programs that were supported by nationally recognized leaders from both parties:

The bi-partisan USDA Dole-McGovern Program was founded by Democratic leader George McGovern and Republican Leader Bob Dole. It has assisted many developing countries to start school meals programs, has won accolades for many years, and until now has received stalwart support from the powers that be. That should not change and is not likely to change.

The Trump budget would also make major cuts in the State Department’s Food for Peace Program, which was founded by Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Food for Peace sends food relief to poor countries suffering from wars or natural disasters. This is a classic example of the kind of program that helps prevent future wars by reducing starvation and preventing the strife that can create opportunities for malicious extremists to wreak havoc.

Food for Peace and the Dole McGovern Program are small and under-funded. Slashing their funds will do nothing to reduce massive deficit spending but will increase the chances of turmoil abroad that can later come home to haunt us.

REGISTRATION, SCHEDULE AND GROUP HOTEL INFO FOR MAY 17-18 ECONOMIC EQUALITY CAUCUS IN WASHINGTON, DC

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Jobs, Health Care, Education, USDA Issues at EEC in Washington, DC, May 17-18, 2017

Posted on March 01, 2017 at 03:53 PM

Please advocate for job creation/infrastructure investments, health care for underserved populations, public education, hunger and nutrition programs at the bipartisan Economic Equality Caucus on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, May 17-18, 2017.

Space is limited so please RSVP as soon as you can by email at LeePowell@delta.comcastbiz.net or phone at (202) 360-6347. Registration information is below in this newsletter.

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 in transportation, housing, broadband and other vital systems. 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;

Health care: The Affordable Care Act has provided health insurance to millions who never had it before. The ACA can certainly be improved, but if it is to be repealed we need to weigh in about what will replace it.

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.

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 at the US House of Representatives Rayburn building, Room 2060.

SENATE SESSION: Thursday morning, May 18, 2017, 8:45 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)

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).

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

–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., and Nucor Steel of Arkansas, 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, 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;

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

–Representatives of MAFO and other farm workers’ organizations from Minnesota, Wisconsin and the United Farm Workers.

We are in the process of inviting many other organizations and grassroots leaders and will update the participants as we get closer to the time of the event.

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 to reserve your room.

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.

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