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.

Spending Bill Has Strong Provisions for Delta in Remarkable Departure from Gridlock, Jan. 17, 2014

Posted on January 17, 2014 at 08:35 PM

The Delta Grassroots Caucus praises the $1.1 trillion spending bill passed by 72-26 in the US Senate with bipartisan support from US Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Sen. Vitter (R-LA), US Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR), US Sen. John Boozman (R-AR), US Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS), US Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS), Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and many others from both parties that provided more for the Delta Regional Authority than President Obama requested in his budget, and contained agriculture, economic development, flood control and wildlife refuge that are beneficial for all eight states of the Delta region.

“We commend Senators Landrieu, Vitter, Pryor, Boozman, Cochran, Wicker, Alexander and all the senators from both parties who supported this great departure from our recent exasperating gridlock, averted another destructive government shutdown, provided funding for agriculture, flood control, the Dale Bumpers White River National Wildlife Refuge, economic development, and actually provided $3.81 million more for the DRA than President Obama’s budget request–a total of $15 million,” said Caucus Director Lee Powell.

“In this budget-cutting climate in Washington, DC when many agencies are seeing their funding slashed, the $15 million for the DRA was an excellent result and we know that Senators Pryor, Boozman, and others in both Houses helped in this result,” Powell said.

“The bill is a compromise and isn’t perfect, but it has many good provisions and is 1,000 times better than a government shutdown.”

The DRA received $3 million in the USDA section of the omnibus spending bill, whereas the Obama administration unfortunately had not requested anything from that source of funding for the DRA. The DRA received $12 million in the Energy and Water section of the omnibus, which was an increase over the President’s budget request of $11,319,000.

The spending bill contains beneficial provisions for flood control, dredging and other Army Corps of Engineers projects on the Mississippi River, in the amount of $5.46 billion, which is an increase of $748 million above the FY 2013 sequester level.

President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law.

Delta Caucus senior adviser Kevin Smith of Helena-West Helena said, “This is great to see this bipartisan deal pass with strong funding for agriculture, economic development, the DRA and $550,000 for the Dale Bumpers White River National Wildlife Refuge, recently named for former US Sen. Dale Bumpers of Arkansas for his statesmanlike service to our natural resources and the environment over his distinguished career.”

Rep. Mark McElroy of southeast Arkansas said, “It’s great to have good news for a change in the Delta, and it renews your faith in our political system to see our leaders like Mark Pryor and John Boozman stop this destructive pattern of gridlock and instead do the right thing for the people of the Delta.”

“The Delta Caucus has been very vocal in recent years in denouncing the frustrating gridlock in Washington, DC, so today we want to praise this vote, which we hope will bring about a new and more bipartisan, constructive environment in our nation’s capital,” McElroy said.

Delta states will benefit from more than $300 million for channel improvements and levees along the Mississippi River.

The DRA promotes community and economic development in the eight-state region from southern Illinois and Missouri, western Kentucky and western Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, down to New Orleans, Louisiana and eastward to the Alabama Black Belt.

Sen. Pryor chairs the Appropriations Agriculture subcommittee, and the spending bill contains a range of provisions for farmers, agriculture research at Arkansas universities, and other USDA projects.

Agriculture projects in the spending bill are listed in the “continue reading” section:

Agriculture projects in spending bill:

$7,759,000 for the Arkansas Children’s Nutrition Center in Little Rock

$4,642,000 for the Dale Bumpers National Rice Research Center in Stuttgart

$62,494,000 for the National Center for Toxicology Research in Jefferson County

$2,976,000 for the Harry K. Dupree Stuttgart National Aquaculture Research Center

$2,579,000 for the Dale Bumpers Small Farms Research Center at Booneville

$1,800,000 for the National Agricultural Library Agricultural Law Program in Fayetteville

$1,502,000 for the Poultry Production and Products Safety Research in Fayetteville

$1,424,000 for the Lower Mississippi River Basin Program in Jonesboro

$1,000,000 for Sustainable Water Use Research at Arkansas State University

$40,000,000 for Bayou Meto and Grand Prairie—Pryor included language in the bill providing Bayou Meto and Grand Prairie with a Rural Utilities Service loan.

$52,485,000 for Research at Land-Grant Universities—The University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff may be eligible for a portion of these funds.

$33,961,000 for the McIntire-Stennis Cooperative and Research at Land-Grant Universities—The University of Arkansas at Monticello’s forestry program may be eligible for a portion of these funds.

$1,178,000,000 for Farm Service Agency (FSA)—FSA provides a wide variety of programs used by agricultural producers, including farm ownership loans and farm operating loans.

$462,400,000 for Rural Development-Water and Waste Disposal Program—Rural communities, including those across the state of Arkansas, may be eligible for funding to develop, modernize, and operate their water and waste disposal programs.

$6,716,000 for the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program—This funding will provide new mothers, infants, and children with safe and reliable access to food. In 2013, over 80,000 families in Arkansas participated in WIC.

The bill funds the government through September. It passed the House by the huge margin of 359-67 earlier.

“We praise the great majority of US Representatives who also voted for this bipartisan spending bill, such as Rep. Tim Griffin (R-AR), Rep. Steve Womack (R-AR), Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), and would respectfully ask Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), the only member of the Louisiana delegation to oppose it, as well as other Delta Members of Congress, to reconsider his position on compromise, bipartisan efforts in the future,” Powell said.