Rep. Cuellar Fights Poverty with Appropriations Bill Provisions
Sets Aside $1 Billion for Counties with 20% of Residents in Poverty
Today, Congressman Henry Cuellar announced that the Omnibus Appropriations Bill passed by the House of Representatives last week contains many of his provisions to fight poverty, house homeless veterans on the border, and support residents of rural areas and colonias.
The legislation funds the government for the rest of the 2017 fiscal year.
“There are communities in my district where hard-working families struggle to make ends meet, including some rural areas and colonias.” said Congressman Cuellar. “Despite the challenges of poverty, these communities produce amazing people who just need a fair shot to fulfill their potential. This legislation will make sure federal resources are targeted in the right way, so all of my constituents have more opportunities to succeed.”
The poverty-fighting provisions that Congressman Cuellar fought to get into the Omnibus bill include:
· More than $947 million through Rep. Cuellar’s “10-20-30” program:
Language directing some Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Department of Interior grant to prioritize and set aside at least 10 percent of federal funding through specific programs for counties where 20 percent or more of the population has lived in poverty over the past 30 years (“persistent poverty areas”). Webb, Zapata, Starr, Hidalgo, and La Salle counties meet this definition in the 28th Congressional District;
· Language directing the Department of Agriculture to focus its StrikeForce Initiatives on persistent poverty counties;
“StrikeForce Initiative.-The Committee appreciates the Department’s efforts to target assistance to at-risk communities through the StrikeForce Initiative for Rural Growth and Opportunity. USDA, in collaboration with public and private partners, helps rural counties experiencing chronic poverty improve economic opportunities and quality of life for local residents. The Committee encourages USDA to place special emphasis on persistent poverty counties and continue to utilize a strategy of partnering public resources with local expertise to grow rural economies and create jobs in these poverty-stricken areas.”
· $64 million for Rural Water and Waste Disposal Program grants for Colonias, Native Americans, and Alaskan Native Villages;
· $47 million for Rural Community Facilities Program Grants, with at least 10% set aside for persistent poverty areas;
· $65.5 million for Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)’s Rural Outreach Programs, targeted specifically to rural communities with high rates of poverty, unemployment, and substance abuse;
· Language directing HUD to develop strategies for reducing veteran homelessness on US-Mexico border; and
· Language directing the Census to increase outreach to historically undercounted communities, including colonias.
The bill also maintains funding for the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG) at $3 billion. The CDBG program allocates annual grants cities and counties to develop viable communities by providing decent housing, a suitable living environment, and opportunities to expand economic opportunities, principally for low- and moderate-income persons. President Trump has threatened to eliminate this program.
In previous years, local areas within the Texas 28th District have received up to the following amounts of CDBG money for projects:
· Laredo, TX -- $3,436,805.00
· Rio Bravo, TX -- $201,884.00
· El Cenizo, TX -- $275,000.00
· Webb County, TX -- $275,000.00
· Atascosa County, TX and cities within it -- $681,706.00
· Wilson County, TX and cities within it -- $506 250.00
· San Antonio, TX -- $11,457,418.00
· Bexar County, TX -- $2,180,749.00
· Mission, TX -- $904,240.00
· Hidalgo County, TX -- $7,226,312.00
· Zapata County, TX -- $1,314,899.00
· Starr County, TX -- $3,768,812.00
These provisions were part of the Omnibus Appropriations Bill, which funds the government for fiscal year 2017 and which passed the House of Representatives last week. It also included many other key legislative accomplishments for Congressman Cuellar, including support for education, clean drinking water, Rio Grande Valley citrus growers, and good governance.