O’Halleran Launches Blue Dogs Virtual Rural Opportunity Roundtable Series

September 1, 2020 by Dan McCue

Rep. Tom O’Halleran, D-Ariz., made a little history on Monday by launching the Blue Dog Democrats’ first-ever virtual rural opportunity roundtable series. The discussion with local and tribal leaders focused on the effects of the COVID-19 crisis on rural and tribal communities.

“There’s no better place to start these discussions than with those who best know these communities and who are leading the fight against the crisis: our local and tribal leaders,” said O’Halleran, the Blue Dog Coalition’s co-chair for Policy. 

“Rural communities make up the very fabric of America; their success is our nation’s success. In Washington, I’m fighting to make the voices of rural Arizona families heard,” the centrist Democrat said.

Joining O’Halleran for his discussion with local leaders Monday was Rep. Xochitl Torres Small, of New Mexico, co-chair of the Blue Dog Task Force on Rural Opportunity.

The roundtable series is part of an ongoing effort by the Blue Dog Coalition to develop a forward-looking plan to strengthen rural American. Key to this effort will be helping these areas to build a strong economic foundation and creating good-paying jobs.

According to O’Halleran, the coalition believes crafting the plan requires more than hearing from policy experts. The roundtable series will afford coalition members the opportunity to talk to those who are experiencing issues first-hand in their communities.

Among the issues to be discussed throughout the series are lack of access to broadband in rural communities, health care, small business and entrepreneurship, and the outdoor economy.

After the session, Gov. Brian Vallo of the Acoma Pueblo, commended the Blue Dog Coalition for reaching out to tribal leaders and listening to their concerns and perspectives.

“There is a great need throughout Indian country … but we embrace the challenge,” Vallo said, adding the tribe expects to emerge from the pandemic era “still strong, still focused, and optimistic for better futures for the future generations of our Acoma people.”

A similar sentiment was expressed by Chairman Timothy Nuvangyaoma of the Hopi Tribe. 

“COVID-19 has definitely brought to the surface a lot of the challenges that not only the Hopi face, but people across Native America,” he said.

“This is particularly true of health care, but also extends to infrastructure, water issues, and technology,” Nuvangyaoma added.

“I am really thankful for the Blue Dog Coalition for inviting us to at least bring some of these issues to light,” he said.

“What we really like about the Blue Dogs is that they’re problems solvers and they’re willing to reach across the aisle,” said Matthew Chase, CEO and director of the National Association of Counties.

“One of the toughest issues we’ve been facing with COVID-19 is that, unlike other historic events in this country, this has become a partisan exercise,” Chase said. “And what we really need is the help of the Blue Dogs and others to come across the aisle.

“For some reason, aid to local governments has become partisan. And we really want to make sure that it’s a nonpartisan or a bipartisan issue,” he continued. “What we’re looking for is investment. We’re not looking for spending for spending’s sake. We are looking to help stabilize those that need our assistance today … while making strategic investments that help the United States compete in the global economy for years to come.

“If rural areas are left behind, the United States will never reach its full potential,” Chase said. “Rural areas provide the food, the fuel, the fiber, and many important things for this country … and yet they are really being left behind. So we encourage the bipartisan approach to problem solving the Blue Dogs have undertaken.”

Congress

Rep. Neal Eyes Massive Coronavirus Relief, Climate and Infrastructure Package
Congress
Rep. Neal Eyes Massive Coronavirus Relief, Climate and Infrastructure Package

WASHINGTON — House Ways and Means Chairman Richard E. Neal's attitude toward legislating under a Democratic-led White House might aptly be described as "never let a crisis go to waste." The Massachusetts Democrat wants to take a page from his party's 2009 playbook, when the Obama administration took office amid the wreckage of... Read More

Opening of 117th Congress Will be Different Due to Pandemic
Congress
Opening of 117th Congress Will be Different Due to Pandemic

WASHINGTON — When the 117th Congress convenes in January, COVID-19 precautions will prevent the 435 House members from gathering in the chamber together, so opening day festivities of swearing in members and electing the speaker will look a little different. House leaders have begun discussing how to carry out... Read More

Lawmakers a Step Closer to Averting Dec. 11 Government Shutdown
Congress
Lawmakers a Step Closer to Averting Dec. 11 Government Shutdown

WASHINGTON — Top appropriators reached bipartisan agreement Tuesday on a framework for an omnibus spending package that would avoid a partial government shutdown next month. The compromise forged between the leaders of the House and Senate Appropriations committees sets spending allocations for the dozen bills that fund federal agencies... Read More

Uncalled House Race in Iowa Grows Ever Tighter
2020 Elections
Uncalled House Race in Iowa Grows Ever Tighter
November 25, 2020
by Dan McCue

Throughout the 2020 election cycle a persistent narrative was just how divided the United States has become. But an as-yet uncalled House race in Iowa is taking the concept of a nation equally divided between Republicans and Democrats to a whole new level. Since Monday, the... Read More

Espaillat-Rooney Bill Boosts Funding and Cooperation in the Caribbean
Drugs
Espaillat-Rooney Bill Boosts Funding and Cooperation in the Caribbean
November 24, 2020
by Sean Trambley

WASHINGTON – Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bipartisan measure increasing funding to the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative to help combat corruption and illicit drug trafficking between the United States and Caribbean nations. Introduced by Reps. Adriano Espaillat, D-N.Y., and Francis Rooney, R-Fla.,... Read More

Feinstein Won't Seek Top Democrat Spot on Judiciary Committee
U.S. Senate
Feinstein Won't Seek Top Democrat Spot on Judiciary Committee
November 24, 2020
by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON - Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said Monday she will step down as the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee when the 117th Congress convenes in January, apparently bowing to critics who believe she wasn't aggressive enough in her handling of Amy Coney Barrett's Supreme Court... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top