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.

Delta Queen Campaign Update

Posted on December 19, 2008 at 07:30 PM

House Minority Leader John Boehner, Representatives Steve Chabot (R-OH), Geoff Davis (R-KY), and Jean Schmidt (R-OH) have sent a letter to President Bush, asking him to issue an Executive Order continuing the Delta Queen’s exemption from the 1966 Safety of Life at Sea Act. This may or may not work out, but it is important to keep the issue alive and we commend the Save the Delta Queen campaign for their dedication to a good cause.

As US Senator from Illinois, Barack Obama was an original cosponsor of the legislation to keep the Delta Queen afloat, with bipartisan support from Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS), Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) and many other Senators from both parties. This legislation had a great deal of support and there may be an effort to reintroduce it next year. For now the center of action is to ask President Bush to issue an executive order.

There are legal issues involved here. Congressman Boehner thinks that in this case we may be able to squeak by on a technicality. He is operating on the theory that, although the Constitution does not grant the President the power to overturn the law itself, there is a chance that he can order the continuation of an exemption that has been routinely granted for the past 42 years by Congress.

As of the close of business yesterday, the White House had not responded directly to the letter, but they have asked for more information about the issue.

Please contact President Bush and ask him to act on our behalf. He will be under extreme pressure from the Coast Guard bureaucracy to turn thumbs down on Congressman Boehner’s request, so please stress the Queen’s impeccable safety record and the fact that the Coast Guard inspectors who examine the boat six or more times each season say she is in fine shape to keep plying our waterways for many years to come. This season, the Coast Guard’s top-ranking traveling inspector, Marc Kruger, made a five-day trip on the Delta Queen and issued a positive report that is posted on the Coast Guard’s web site.

Vicki Webster, our colleague who is leading the Save the Delta Queen campaign, has Marc Kruger’s 39-page report in pdf form and will be happy to send it to anyone who would like to see it. Her contact information is (513) 381-3571, phone; and email,

Please also contact First Lady Laura Bush and remind her that keeping this irreplaceable historic treasure alive would be a truly significant part of her husband’s legacy.

You can mail letters and petitions to the White House at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20500. But because time is of the essence, faxes, email, or phone calls are better. Email messages should go to And here are the fax and phone numbers:

Fax: (202) 456-2461 Phone: (202) 456-1111 (comment line) (202) 456-1414 (main switchboard)

Contact information for Vicki Webster is: (513) 381-3571

The physical address is The Save the Delta Queen Campaign 335 W. Fifth Street #401 Cincinnati, Ohio 45202

This is a tough battle and we are up against the powerful Seafarers International Union, which is influential with Chairman Oberstar of the House transportation committee, and they have a conflict with the ownership of the Delta Queen, as we have previously discussed many times. But it is always good to keep fighting for a good cause until all possibilities are exhausted.

USA Today, the New York Times and many other media continue to devote favorable coverage to the Save the Delta Queen campaign. Vicki Webster has waged a valiant fight on the historic steamboat’s behalf. However this turns out, she has fought the good fight for a historic icon of the Mississippi River and its tributaries.

Lee Powell, Mississippi Delta Grassroots Caucus (202) 360-6347