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.

Issue of Cuts to Vital Delta Programs; Congress' Strong Turnout, Nov. 1-3 in DC

Posted on September 28, 2011 at 03:19 PM

We have many key Members of Congress from both parties participating at the Nov. 1-3 Delta Caucus conference in Washington, DC, and we need to inform all our partners that there are some forces in Congress who are recommending major cuts to vital community economic development programs such as the USDA, small business/jobs creation, disaster relief, flood control and related issues, the Delta Regional Authority and other regional economic development commissions.

We need to weigh in against unwise cuts in productive initiatives at this crucial time as the super Congressional committee’s deadline for their decisions is Nov. 23, but Nov. 3 is a key date in their process, and that is precisely right after our meetings on Capitol Hill on Nov. 1-2.

Time is running short–Registration and group hotel deadlines are coming up soon at Oct. 18.

We need to weigh in with the Congressional and executive branch powers that be about the merits of programs that create jobs and aid the most economically distressed people in the Delta. It would be counterproductive to cut these programs in the middle of a recession.

STRONG PARTICIPATION FROM KEY MEMBERS OF CONGRESS: Among the key participants who have already confirmed for Nov. 1 and 2 are Sen. Mary Landrieu, Louisiana, chair of the Small Business Committee; Rep. Bennie Thompson, Mississippi, chair of the Homeland Security Committee; Senators Mark Pryor and John Boozman of Arkansas; Rep. Mike Ross and Rep. Rick Crawford, Arkansas, the co-chairs of the Congressional Mississippi River Delta Caucus, the Congressional counterpart to our grassroots group; Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, Missouri, who represents a large part of the Delta in southeast Missouri; Rep. Cedric Richmond, Louisiana, who represents the great city of New Orleans; Sen. Roger Wicker, Mississippi; Rep. Tim Griffin, Arkansas; and Alternate Federal Co-Chairman Mike Marshall of the Delta Regional Authority. We also expect several other Members from the region.

For the conference we emphasize quality far more than quantity and focus on a cohesive group of influential and knowledgeable grassroots leaders, although it is gratifying that we have an RSVP count of 89 right now who will attend at least parts of the conference in the midst of a recession. When everybody’s budget is strapped, we really appreciate the participation at this stressful time.

We are glad to have Mike Marshall, Alternate Federal Co-Chairman of the Delta Regional Authority from Sikeston, Missouri, and many other participants from the region. DRA Federal Co-Chairman Chris Masingill was the keynote speaker at our last two conferences and this time we are glad to have Mike Marshall from Missouri as the DRA’s second highest ranking official. A draft agenda will come out in the next week.

We cover a wide range of issues and the DRA budget is only one of them. There are some ill-informed Members of Congress–most of them outside the Delta and Appalachia–who want to make major cuts in the regional development commissions. Some even call for abolishing the regional commissions.

This is utterly counterproductive and unwise to cut these small but vital and efficient programs; the DRA in particular uses its funds very wisely, helps create jobs in the region, has had remarkable success in leveraging its relatively small funding with other sources of private and government funding, as well as engaging in many constructive strategic planning, coordination and regional unity activities.

It would be utterly irrational to cut a program like the DRA which uses its small funds to create jobs and otherwise aid the region. Here is a thumbnail sketch of some of their highlights:

HIGHLIGHTS OF DRA ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Since its creation ten years ago, the DRA’s targeted investments for the 10 million people in the region has created over 6000 jobs and retained nearly an additional 6,000 jobs. With a leverage ratio of 23:1, the DRA leveraged $1.4 billion in private investment with DRA projects and helped 17,000 families gain access to clean water and sewer service.**

We will be there during the crucial job creation and spending cuts debates in Congress and the Obama administration, so please help us join forces to inform the powers that be to make careful and wise decisions during these stressful times of recession and budget deficits.

**The early registration fee deadline is October 18, 2011. Please make out the $100 early registration fees to “Delta Caucus” and mail to:

Delta Grassroots Caucus

5030 Purslane Place

Waldorf, MD 20601


The Opening session is Tuesday evening, Nov. 1, 4:45 p.m. to 8 p.m., B-339 Rayburn House of Representatives building. NOTE THAT FOR SCHEDULING REASONS THIS SESSION HAS TO START MUCH EARLIER THIS YEAR. There will be food and drinks but we will have to get right into the program without a reception, for scheduling reasons.

Senate session: Wednesday morning, Nov. 2, Senate Visitors Center Rooms 200-201, 8:30 a.m. to noon.

Capitol Hill session at historic sanctuary of Lutheran Church of the Reformation near the Supreme Court, 212 East Capitol, Wednesday afternoon, Nov. 2, 1:15 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Thursday morning, Nov. 3–Final meetings in smaller groups or individuals at additional Congressional and executive branch offices. Most of these meetings must be set up on the initiative of individual partners. We do have some meetings set up, and if you would like to go to one of these, please advise by email:

Senator Mark Pryor’s office, Thursday, Nov. 3, 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., Senate Dirksen Room 255. Sen. Pryor has a strong reputation for working well with Senators from both parties.

Congressman Mike Ross’ office, Thursday, Nov. 3, 11 a.m. to noon, Room 2436 Rayburn building: Rep. Ross is co-chair of the bipartisan Mississippi River Congressional Delta Caucus, the counterpart to our grassroots caucus. Kenny Gober of the McGehee Housing Authority and others from southeast Arkansas will lead this group.

Congressman Rick Crawford, Thursday, Nov. 3, 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., Room 1408 Longworth: Rep. Crawford is the other co-chair of the Congressional Delta Caucus, which can send out memos to all the Members of Congress from our eight states. Rev. Jerome Turner of BGACDC agency in Phillips County will be one of the grassroots leaders at this conference. Rep. Crawford does not have one of the larger Capitol Hill offices so this meeting will have to limited to about eight people.

We are also setting up smaller meetings at US DOT to discuss proposals to put people back to work building roads, bridges and other much needed infrastructure improvements. Johnnie Bolin from southeast Arkansas will lead this meeting–he is one of the leading transportation and economic development experts in the region.

We are also setting up a smaller meeting at USDA Rural Utilities Service on broadband, telemedicine and related rural health care issues, with James Miller of the Community Health House Network in Mississippi being one of the leaders of this session.

GROUP HOTEL: The group hotel is Radisson at Reagan airport. To get the reduced rate of $229 per night for Nov. 1 and 2, call the hotel at 703-920-8600 before the deadline of Oct. 18 and say you are with the Delta Caucus.

There are also some suites available at $259 a night, with separate living quarters, so people could double up in these rooms.

There are no meetings at the group hotel, so if you can find a lower hotel rate elsewhere, by all means do so.

COST-CUTTING SUGGESTION: We know everybody’s budget is strapped during these troubling economic times, so if you wanted to skip the third session you could save time and expense and still have taken part in the heart of the conference on Nov. 1 and 2.

If you choose to cut costs in this way, you could fly into Washington by early afternoon on Nov. 1, go to the opening session beginning at 4:45 p.m., then check out on the morning of NOv. 2 and leave your luggage at the hotel, go to the morning and afternoon meetings on Capitol Hill and then come back and pick up your luggage and take a late afternoon or early evening flight back home on Nov. 2.

TRAVEL AGENCY: Over the years many people have found that Travel Consultants International based in Blytheville, Arkansas does an excellent job of helping people find lower airfare and hotel rates. Please call Becky Hawkins at 870-762-2800 if you would like to get help on your fares.

This is a stressful time, so that is all the more reason to help us be the voices of the Delta in Washington, DC on Nov. 1-3. Thanks very much. Lee Powell, MDGC (202) 360-6347