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.

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.



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)


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.


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


Send a check by mail.

Please make out the check to “Delta Caucus” and mail to:

Delta Caucus

5030 Purslane Place

Waldorf, MD 20601


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.

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.

There is a smaller group of rooms available for Tuesday, March 16 and Friday, March 18. The main group will be staying there on Wednesday night, May 17.

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 April 17. After that day there may not be any more spaces available, but if there are you will not get the discount rate.

For more information, contact Lee Powell, Co-Chair, EEC and Delta Caucus Executive Director (202) 360-6347