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.

President Biden Needs to Act Now to Fill Vacancies at Delta Regional Authority

Posted on October 27, 2021 at 11:19 AM

Oct. 27, 2021

NEWS RELEASE CONTACT: Lee Powell, Caucus Director (202) 360-6347 or Harvey Joe Sanner, Caucus senior adviser and president, American Ag Movement of Arkansas (501) 516-7000

“President Biden’s Inaction on DRA Vacancies Prevents Agency from Functioning Properly”

President Biden’s failure to fill the two senior federal posts at the Delta Regional Authority will effectively prevent the agency from functioning properly. He needs to appoint the Federal Co-Chair and/or Alternate Federal Co-Chair immediately.

The Delta Caucus private sector advocacy organization as well as many Members of Congress have repeatedly contacted the White House for the better part of a year now with recommendations of highly qualified leaders who could serve very well in these posts. There has been no action.

The Presidentially appointed posts have essential duties: the DRA is a federal-state partnership that requires an affirmative vote of both the federal senior official and a majority of members from the eight states. The DRA does not have the statutory authority to make program eligibility decisions or new grant awards without the appointment of a Federal Co-Chair or Alternate Federal Co-Chair.

Earlier in the year the White House responded to Delta Caucus recommendations to fill these posts by saying they would do so soon. In recent months, including an updated letter on Oct. 26, 2021, the White House gave no response to recommendations regarding the DRA.

Saying that the President has a lot of vital issues on his plate currently is not an excuse because the Delta’s economic development is also a vital issue and the President always has multiple serious matters to deal with.

The Delta Caucus has recommended several highly qualified leaders, including Mike Marshall, former DRA Alternate Federal Co-Chair in the Obama administration and now CEO of the Sikeston, Missouri Chamber and Economic Development Corp., and Millie Atkins, veteran Delta regional advocate based in Monroe, Louisiana.

Mr. Marshall and Ms. Atkins would bring gender, race and geographical diversity to these posts, and this is essential for the diverse, 8-state Delta. Members of Congress and others have recommended other highly qualified leaders and the administration needs to appoint them now.

Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) has recommended well-qualified candidates starting earlier this year, and in late September a group of US senators from the region including Sen. John Boozman (R-AR), Sen. Marshal Blackburn (R-TN), Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-TN), Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) and Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) urged the administration to fill the vacancies.

Please contact your member of Congress and ask them to urge the Biden administration to fill these vacancies ASAP with a well-qualified Delta leader of your choice.

The latest letter is below in this message. President Biden will receive positive responses if he makes these apppointments now but will get increasingly vocal criticism if his administration continues to neglect this important matter.

Delta Grassroots Caucus

Oct. 26, 2021

For President Biden’s White House Presidential Personnel Office (attention William McIntee):

President Biden will receive very positive feedback if he will now appoint one of the highly qualified leaders to the Delta Regional Authority (DRA) Federal Co-Chair and Alternate Federal Co-Chair as recommended by Members of Congress, the Delta Grassroots Caucus, and others concerned about community and economic progress in the 8-state region of 10 million people.

The Delta Caucus is following up on communications we have been making for almost a year now. This will prevent the DRA from functioning properly and action is long overdue.

The DRA does not have the statutory authority to make program eligibility requirements and new grant awards without the appointment of a Federal Co-Chair or Alternate Federal Co-Chair. The agency is a federal-state partnership and requires an affirmative vote of both the federal official and a majority of state members in order to conduct its grant-making activities.

By leaving these posts vacant, the Biden administration is preventing the DRA from effectively conducting its duties for the community and economic development of the Greater Delta Region.

We know the President has the pandemic and other vital issues to deal with, but ecodnomic distress in the Delta is also a vital issue. He has been in office 10 months now and it is time to act on the many recommendations we have made along with senior Members of Congress from the region. We have suggested former DRA Alternate Federal Co-Chair MIke Marshall, currently CEO of Sikeston, Missouri Chamber and Economic Development Corp., and Millie Atkins, veteran Delta regional advocate and community leader based in Monroe, Louisiana. Members of Congress have recommended other excellent candidates.

Please fill these vacancies now. We are a moderate, substantive group and would like to see President Biden succeed for the good of our region and nation.

This inaction is already generating criticism in the region even by moderate, thoughtful groups, and will do so even more the longer this continues.

The economically distressed Delta needs all the help it can gets, and this lack of action is most unfortunate. It’s time to act now. Thanks–Lee Powell, Executive Director, Delta Caucus (202) 360-6347