Congressman Cleaver Delivers Strong Message in Support of Rural America
(Washington D.C.) – Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, II is extremely concerned about the effects that President Donald Trump’s FY 2018 budget will have on rural Americans and small town citizens.
“This budget is not for rural America and it hurts working families, veterans, and especially low-income families and seniors,” said Congressman Cleaver.
President Trump’s budget cuts nearly $2.6 billion in infrastructure investments, half a billion dollars of which goes to rural water and sewage improvements. It eliminates TIGER grants which many rural communities rely on for infrastructure.
“It is our rural areas that need the most help with infrastructure - aging roads, failing sewer and water systems. These small towns need help to attract private investors to help them build and revitalize,” said Congressman Cleaver.
The budget entirely eliminates funding for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program. The CDBG program allows rural communities to repair crumbling housing stock; helps seniors, veterans, and struggling individuals and families stay in their homes; and maintains critical infrastructure systems that preserve residents’ access to clean water and protect them from toxic waste. Following the 2014 tornado in Orrick, MO, $375,000 of CDBG funding was designated to repair streets and remove storm debris to help the community recover.
Proposed cuts to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will be extremely harmful to rural America. Reducing the USDA budget by 21%, or $4.7 billion would have a devastating impact on local farm service offices that are in nearly every rural county in America. These offices would be forced to cut staff or worse, close completely. Farm services help farmers with loan programs and conservation initiatives. Reducing the USDA budget would also limit small business opportunities with cuts to the Rural Business and Cooperative Service (RBS) grants. Missouri received $56 million in RBS grants and direct and guaranteed loans. RBS created or saved 2,427 jobs and assisted 5,088 businesses in Missouri towns with populations of less than 50,000.
“RBS is the backbone of rural communities by providing invaluable resources to farmers. Cutting these programs literally cuts the farmer off from the services they need to maintain a living,” said Congressman Cleaver.
RBS specifically assists farmers with purchasing cost-saving technology including grain dryers, anaerobic digesters (used by dairy farmers), solar panels and alternative fuels like ethanol.
Rural health care will also be hard hit by proposed budget cuts. Programs through the U.S. Department of Health and Human services that train rural primary care physicians, as well as nurses and physicians assistants will be cut by $403 million. This will make it more difficult for families and seniors to find health care services in their rural communities.
The budget calls for the elimination of funding for the National Endowment of the Humanities (NEH) and Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). Between 2008 and 2012, Missouri organizations received $12.6 million from the NEH and the Missouri Humanities Council for projects that preserve cultural heritage. Specifically, 100,000 pages of historic Missouri newspapers, such as the St. Joseph Observer and the University Missourian, are being digitized by the State Historical Society of Missouri, Columbia with the support of NEH grant funding. The CPB gave out more than $6.9 million in grants for radio and television programming, support and digital improvements, including stations in Warrensburg and Maryville.
“I want you to know, I cannot support this budget. I’ve always believed that the budget is a moral document – one that reflects our values as a nation. This budget does just the opposite. I will remain committed to making sure that rural communities in my district and around the country are not devastated by severe budget cuts, “ said Congressman Cleaver.
Emanuel Cleaver, II is the U.S. Representative for Missouri’s Fifth Congressional District, which includes Kansas City, Independence, Lee's Summit, Raytown, Grandview, Sugar Creek, Blue Springs, Grain Valley, Oak Grove, North Kansas City, Gladstone, Claycomo, and all of Ray, Lafayette, and Saline Counties. He is a member of the exclusive House Financial Services Committee, the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance, and also a Senior Whip of the Democratic Caucus. A high-resolution photo of Congressman Cleaver is available here. For more information, please contact Heather Frierson at 816-842-4545 or Heather.Frierson@mail.house.gov.