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.

12 Members of Congress, 100 RSVPs for Delta Jobs Conference--Oct. 18 Deadline

Posted on October 13, 2011 at 01:23 PM

Registration and group hotel deadline for the Nov. 1-3 Delta Initiative in Washington, DC is next week, Oct. 18, Tuesday close of business. We have 12 Members of Congress, national executive branch officials, and an RSVP count of 100 people, with a range of pressing issues focusing on job creation and opposing serious budget cuts to key economic development programs for the Delta.

Contact Lee Powell at (202) 360-6347 or to register. You complete registration by sending in the $100 early registration fee by Oct. 18, with the check made out to “Delta Caucus: to:

Delta Caucus

5030 Purslane Place

Waldorf, Maryland 20601

Our highest priorities are opposing destructive cuts to USDA Rural Development, nutrition, broadband expansion, disaster relief and flood control, renewable energy, aid to small farmers, the Delta Regional Authority, health care, SBA and other job creation programs, transportation investments that improve infrastructure and put people back to work.

We are always seeking new Delta participants, so we will not ask for the late registration fee for anyone who has learned about this conference at a late date.

We will be advocating for our economically distressed region and striving for support from Democrats, Independents and Republicans. The super Congressional committee on budget cuts has a deadline of Nov. 23 to make its decisions, but one of the key stages in their decisions will be on Nov. 3–the day after our group meetings on Capitol Hill on Nov. 1-2 and the day when we willl be continuing with follow-up meetings in small groups or individuals at additional Congressional and executive offices. So our timing is right on target.

An example of ill-advised budget cut proposals–the DRA: The Delta Regional Authority budget is only one among many issues we work on, but the disturbing news there is a typical example of the kinds of unwise budget cuts being proposed now in Washington.

The Senate energy and water appropriations subcommittee made the very unwise and counterproductive vote to cut the DRA budget down to $9.92 million, although the House had the much better level of $11.7 million. The full committee and full Senate are yet to vote, so we hope to defeat this destructive effort to cut a program that helps create jobs in the middle of a recession.

The House of Representatives level of funding is currently $11.7 million, relatively speaking a better result, so we have a goal of getting better results in conference. All programs are under threat of being either cut or abolished.

Ill-advised threat to abolish DRA and all regional commissions: Even worse than efforts to cut the DRA budget is the national deficits commission’s irrational recommendation that all regional commissions, including the DRA and the Appalachian Regional Commission, be abolished. We adamantly oppposed such a foolish decision earlier this year, but talk of abolition has re-surfaced. All the Delta and Appalachian states are standing together on this. Help us advocate in DC and educate the powers that be on the merits of vital Delta programs.

We would argue that there should not be any budget cut at all for programs like the DRA that help create jobs and do many other constructive activities, and that the agency’s budget ought to stay level at the current $11.7 million.

When President Clinton and Congress created the DRA, its original level was envisaged at $30 million. The Bush administration hacked its budget down to $5 million and tried to cut it further, but thanks to many of the people on this group email list we fought and worked tirelessly and got the budget back up to $13.5 million through energy and water, with approximately another $2.7 million through USDA Rural Development.

As a Senator and Presidential candidate, Barack Obama called for an increase in the DRA budget, but the last couple of years we have been going backwards. Help urge the Obama administration and Congress to not cut the DRA budget.

DRA was cut to $11.7 million for FY 2011, and now we are threatened with an additional cut. We must not keep going backwards for this fine agency that does so much with so little!

DRA Accomplishments in a nutshell: During its relatively brief history after President Clinton signed into law the bill creating the DRA, the agency has: invested $86 million in 610 projects across the region from southern Missouri and Illinois to New Orleans and east to the Alabama Black Belt, with an impressive leveraging ratio of almost 20 to 1 amounting to a total of $1.8 billion in private, state and federal dollars.

The results are projected totals of more than 35,000 jobs created or retained, 58,000 families with improved water and sewer services and more than 6,000 people gaining from job training programs.


OPENING SESSION, TUESDAY EVENING, NOV. 1, 4:45 P.M. TO 8 P.M., B-339 Rayburn House of Representatives building. There will be food and drinks. NOTE THAT WE HAVE TO START MUCH EARLIER THAN USUAL FOR SCHEDULING REASONS.

Opening speakers: Alternate Federal Co-Chairman of the DRA Mike Marshall, based in Sikeston, (Missouri) Senator Mark Kirk (Illinois), Congresswoman Terri Sewell (Alabama), Congresswoman Jo Ann Emerson (Missouri), Congressman Cedric Richmond (Louisiana), Congressman Bennie Thompson, chair of the Homeland Security Committee (Mississippi), Congressman Mike Ross (Arkansas), Congressman Rick Crawford (Arkansas), the Hon. Rodney Slater, former US Secretary of Transportation in the Clinton administration; and grassroots leaders from the Delta.


Senate session begins with big picture panel of grassroots leaders on the Delta’s regional economic development moderated by Southeast Missouri State University’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship; Congressman Tim Griffin (Arkansas), Senator John Boozman (Arkansas) Senator Mary Landrieu, Chair of the Senate Small Business Committee (Louisiana), Senator Mark Pryor (Arkansas), Senator Roger Wicker (Mississippi), and INVITED Senator Claire McCaskill (Missouri).

FINAL CAPITOL HILL GROUP MEETING: WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON, Wednesday afternoon, 1:15 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the historic sanctuary of the Lutheran Church of the Reformation on Capitol Hill, near the Congressional buildings at 212 East Capitol.

Speakers on hunger and nutrition as well as small business initiatives, including (INVITED) USDA Assistant Secretary Pearlie Reed; Ed Cooney, executive director of the Congressional Hunger Center; Tamidra Marable of Heifer International; USDA nutrition experts from LSU Pennington Biomedical research center and others with the USDA anti-obesity and nutrition program for the Delta; Feeding America food bank based in Cape Girardeau, Missouri and covering 16 Delta counties; and other grassroots leaders.


INDIVIDUAL OR SMALL GROUP FOLLOW-UP DIALOGUE, Nov. 3, Thursday morning, 9 a.m. to noon at additional Congressional or executive offices. This is strictly on the initiative of each individual. We have a few meetings set up but we encourage you to set up meetings on your own to discuss Delta regional issues with your Member of Congress or the executive branch office of your choice. This must be done entirely on your own initiative because we cannot set up 20 meetings that morning.

The idea of these meetings is to have a follow-up dialogue with legislative directors and other knowledgeable federal officials in a more relaxed, in-depth setting in small groups, after the larger group meetings on Nov. 1-2.

We have set up a few meetings, and PLEASE RSVP to IF YOU WANT TO GO TO ONE OF THESE:

Senator Mark Pryor’s office, Nov. 3, 9:30 to 10:30 a.m., Room 255 Senate Dirksen building. Senator Pryor is an influential Senator who effectively works with Senators from both parties.

Congressman Mike Ross’ office, 2436 Rayburn building, 11 a.m. to noon. Congressman Ross is the Co-Chairman of the Congressional Mississippi River Delta Caucus, which includes all the Members of the Congress in the eight Delta states and is the Congressional counterpart to our grassroots organization. Kenny Gober of the McGehee Housing Authority and Desha County Judge Mark McElroy will be among the key leaders for this session.

Congressman Rick Crawford’s office, 1408 Longworth House building, 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.: Congressman Crawford is the other co-chairman of the Congressional Delta Caucus. Rev. Jerome Turner of the nonprofit BGACDC agency in Phillips County, Arkansas will be among the key leaders for this session. (NOTE: Congressman Crawford does not have one of the larger offices so this meeting will have to be limited to eight people, underlining the importance of RSVPS).

We are planning a meeting at the US Dept. of Transportation with Federal Highway Administration and Transportation Policy officials for Thursday morning, Nov. 3, to discuss putting people back to work on roads, bridges and other transportation infrastructure and progress on the Delta Development Highway System. Time is still to be determined. Johnnie Bolin, director of the Arkansas Good Roads Transportation Council, and DRA Alternate Federal Cochairman Mike Marshall of Missouri will be the key leaders for this session. If you would like to take part in or discuss issues for this meeting, Johnnie Bolin’s email is Time TBA

We are also planning a meeting at USDA Rural Utilities Service on broadband, telemedicine, and related issues. Time is still to be determined. Stephen Copley and Susana O’Daniel will be among the leaders at this meeting, at which we plan to discuss ways of expanding broadband to the growing Hispanic population in the region, among other broadband expansion issues.

We are working on a US Department of Education meeting with the many educators we have in our group on Nov. 3, led by President Larry Peterson of Shawnee Community College in Illinois. We have representatives from Southern Illinois University, Shawnee Community College, Southeast Missouri State University, Murray State University in Kentucky, the University of Memphis, Arkansas State University, invited University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, Mid-South Community College in West Memphis, Delta State University in Cleveland, Mississippi, the University of West Alabama, Grambling State University, and Louisiana State University.

Please RSVP and tell us which of the meetings you plan to attend, because we would like to know about the various small meetings on Nov. 3.

REGISTRATION: You register by sending in the early registration fees of $100 by Oct. 18. Please make out the check to “Delta Caucus” and mail to:

Delta Grassroots Caucus

5030 Purslane Place

Waldorf, Maryland 20601

After Oct. 18, the late registration fees go up to $150, but for those who only recently learned of this deadline we will just ask for the early registration fees.

GROUP HOTEL: The Radisson at Reagan Airport has a group discount fee of $225 for the nights of Nov. 1 and 2. Call the hotel at 703-920-8600 and say you are with the Delta Caucus to get the discount.

If you are going home Wednesday evening, you can check out of the hotel in the morning, store your luggage at the hotel, and come back that afternoon when the conference is over and get your luggage and take a flight out late Wednesday afternoon or early Wednesday evening. You will only have one hotel night to pay for if you do it this way.

If you can find a cheaper hotel, by all means do so, because there are no group meetings at the group hotel.

We go to the meetings in groups of taxi cabs each morning.

Please RSVP about whether you plan to attend each meeting for our planning purposes. Thanks very much. Lee Powell, MDGC (202) 360-6347