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.

Legislation to Aid Local News Organizations Harmed by the Pandemic's Economic Impact

Posted on May 22, 2020 at 01:04 PM

The Delta Caucus supports bipartisan legislation to expand access to Paycheck Protection Program aid for local news organizations who are suffering from a deep fall in advertising revenue caused by the pandemic. Key sponsors include Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.)

We would ask our partners across the 8 states of the Greater Delta Region, the Washington, DC area and elsewhere to read this summary of the Local News and Emergency Information Act of 2020 and then contact your Members of Congress about the need to keep local newspapers and broadcasters who were struggling even before the crisis from going out of business due to the recession.

The goal is to get this included in the next phase of Covid-19 relief. Congress is now considering the many phases of relief that are needed. We appreciate Sen. Boozman and others in the Delta Congressional delegation who are working diligently on this important issue.

Almost everyone, of course, is harmed to a greater or lesser degree by the health and economic impacts of Covid-19. The Delta Caucus is focusing on a number of key vulnerable areas, including food insecure families in our region, those who have lost their jobs, vulnerable small businesses, people who lack health insurance, our struggling rural hospitals, lack of access to broadband. Local media outlets are also hit very hard and we focus on their plight in this message.

These organizations are the main source of information about news in the many small towns and local areas across the region and they make a significant contribution to the democratic process.

The bill expands access to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) provided that the funding is used in the process of continued provision of “local” news, content or emergency information.

This will provide aid for locally operated newspapers, radio and TV stations across the Delta who were not eligible for the earlier PPP aid because they were owned by a larger corporation, even though they were operated and managed at the local level.

The CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act based eligibility on the size of a newspaper’s parent company, and not the size of a local paper’s staff.

The Local News and Emergency Information Act would base eligibility on the number of employees at a publisher’s or broadcaster’s “individual physical location.” The funding can only be used for activities of the “individual physical location.”

A newspaper with fewer than 1,000 employees at the site would qualify, as would broadcasters with gross receipts of less than $41.5 million. These criteria are set by the Small Business Administration’s definition of a “small business.”

The PPP program funds are administered on a first-come, first served basis and any larger companies who apply will not get any special consideration.

Of course, most local newspapers and broadcasters in Arkansas and the 8-state Greater Delta have far fewer than $1,000 employers or less than $41.5 million. Again, these are standard SBA definitions. These limits will prevent huge entities from taking large amounts of funds intended to help local, smaller entities.

Newspapers had already suffered from sharp reductions in ad revenue for more than 10 years as readers and advertisers moved from print to online products.

We would ask two key (rhetorical) questions:

How would you like to get all your information and news from Fox News, MSNBC, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and other behemoths?

How often do huge entities like those listed above provide news and information about your local region?

Think about a world where only the huge news conglomerates disseminate information.

For your convenience, below is a list of Delta US senators and representatives phone numbers.

We would request that if you contact one of your Members of the House and/or Senate, that you send a quick one-sentence note to Lee Powell’s Delta Caucus email address at and just say “I called Sen. X or Rep. Y to support local news aid bill.”

Of course, those partners who have lobbying restrictions either would want to only discuss the general subject of helping media outlets survive during the pandemic and would not refer to the pending bill, or may not wish to call them on this subject, while those without any lobbying restrictions can make a direct lobbying pitch.

US House and Senate phone numbers, 8-state Greater Mississippi River Delta Region (listed in the “Extended Content” section)

US Representatives are listed who have substantial areas of the Delta region included in their districts.


US Senators

(Sen. John Boozman is an original co-sponsor and is already energetically pushing for those bill)

Sen. Tom Cotton, 202-224-2353

US Representatives

Rep. Rick Crawford, 202-225-4076

Rep. Bruce Westerman, 202-225-3772

Rep. French Hill, 202-225-2506


US Senators

Sen. Roger Wicker, 202-224-6253

Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, 202-224-5054

US Representatives

Rep. Bennie Thompson, 202-225-5898

Rep. Michael Guest, 202-225-5031


US Senators

Sen. Bill Cassidy, 202-224-5824

Sen. John Kennedy, 202-224-4623

US Representatives

Rep. Cedric Richmond, 202-225-6636

Rep. Ralph Abraham, 202-225-8490

Rep. Steve Scalise, 202-225-3015


US Senators

Sen. Lamar Alexander, 202-224-4944

Sen. Marsha Blackburn, 202-224-3344

US Representatives

Rep. Steve Cohen, 202-225-3265

Rep. David Kustoff, 202-225-4714


US Senators

Sen. Roy Blunt, 202-224-5721

Sen. Josh Hawley, 202-224-6154

US Representatives

Rep. Jason Smith, 202-225-4404


US Senators

Sen. Mitch McConnell, 202-224-2541

Sen. Rand Paul, 202-224-4343

US Representatives

Rep. James Comer, 202-225-3115


US Senators

Sen. Richard Durbin, 202-224-2152

Sen. Tammy Duckworth, 202-224-2854

US Representatives

Rep. Mike Bost, 202-225-5661

Rep. John Shimkus, 202-225-5271


US Senators

Sen. Doug Jones, 202-224-4124

Sen. Richard Shelby, 202-224-5744

US Representatives

Rep. Terri Sewell, 202-225-2665

Rep. Martha Roby, 202-225-2901