O’Halleran Launches Blue Dogs Virtual Rural Opportunity Roundtable Series
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.”
In The News
WASHINGTON - House Democrats are offering several concessions to Republicans on pandemic-related tax items, including a temporary fix to the thorny problem of how teleworkers and others who work in multiple states during the pandemic should be taxed. That pitch is part of a collection of tax proposals in a document... Read More
WASHINGTON – Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., introduced a bill in the House of Representatives with bipartisan support that would guarantee access to the future novel coronavirus vaccine at no cost to Medicare beneficiaries. The bill, entitled the “Securing Affordable Vaccines Equally for Seniors Act,” would amend... Read More
WASHINGTON - Two of three judges on a Washington appeals court appeared skeptical of President Donald Trump's renewed efforts to prevent accounting firm Mazars USA LLP from turning over his financial records to House Democrats. At a hearing Tuesday before the U.S. Court of Appeals, two judges appointed by Democratic presidents seemed to dispute claims... Read More
WASHINGTON - House Democrats on Tuesday unveiled broad ocean-themed climate legislation, touting the world's oceans as underappreciated tools to combat rising temperatures. "Until today, ocean climate solutions have been mostly out of sight and out of mind in the U.S.," said Jane Lubchenco, who led the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration during the... Read More
On November 3rd, Puerto Ricans will head to the polls to answer a simple question with powerful implications: "Should Puerto Rico be admitted immediately into the Union as a State? Yes or No.” This is not the first time Puerto Ricans have set out to answer... Read More
WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday told fellow Republicans that he has warned the White House not to divide Republicans by sealing a lopsided pre-election COVID-19 relief deal with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — even as he publicly said he'd slate any... Read More