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RuralOrganizing.org Statement on President Biden’s Visit to Rural Iowa  

Today, President Biden traveled to  Menlo, Iowa, a small town about 45 minutes west of Des Moines with a POET Bioprocessing plant to kick off a three week rural America tour as part of a “Building A Better America rural infrastructure tour” to talk about the impact of Bipartisan Infrastructure Law investments, as well as the President’s broader commitment to ensure federal resources reach all communities in rural America. 

The following is a statement from Matt Hildreth, Executive Director of RuralOrganizing.Org:

Yesterday, we welcomed the Biden administration’s Rural Playbook. Today, the President  is making good on the report’s promise to tour rural communities with a visit to Menlo, Iowa.

Rural voters want elected officials who know their communities are worth fighting for and they want to see results. Today, President Biden is not only “showing up,” he’s got the chance to show rural voters that he’s on their side and making sure their government works for them.

Since President Biden signed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law nearly five months ago, the Biden-Harris Administration has hit the ground running to deliver results. The Administration has made key progress towards implementing the largest long-term investment in America’s infrastructure and competitiveness in nearly a century.

The President and his administration established the Rural Playbook to coordinate programs in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act federal programs that are meant to benefit state, local, Tribal and territorial governments in rural areas.  

It’s important to remember that without Biden in office, there would be no infrastructure bill. Already, in Iowa, we know that there have been financial commitments to the infrastructure law to the Iowa Departments of Public Safety and Human Rights.  We also know that Iowa’s Republican Senators split their votes on the infrastructure bill while all three Republican House members voted no. 

We believe the President and his administration can learn a lot by talking to the local officials who are trying to successfully utilize the new funding.  Also, we hope this is an opportunity for the Biden Administration to share more about the diversity of people and economies which make up rural America.  For example, 80% of rural Iowans are not involved in production agriculture and more rural Americans are employed in the education services, health care and social assistance industry than agriculture, forestry, fishing, hunting and mining

We consider the Rural Playbook an important step in the right direction as we continue to push for the White House Office of Rural Prosperity, as proposed in legislation by Senator Mark Kelly (D-AZ) and Rep. Angie Craig (D-MN), to coordinate access to all federal government programs in one place.

According to our analysis of data from USASpending.gov, Iowa has already $4.3 million in federal grants through the infrastructure bill.

  • The Iowa Department of Human Rights was awarded $937,361 through the Department of Health and Human Services and the Administration for Children and Families for low-income home energy assistance. The objective of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is to make grants available to states and tribal governments for the purpose of assisting eligible households to meet the costs of home energy. Supplemental Leveraging Incentive funds may be awarded to reward states that provide additional benefits and services to LIHEAP-eligible households beyond what could be provided with Federal funds. A portion of the leveraging incentive funds may be set aside by HHS for LIHEAP recipients to provide services through local administrating agencies to help LIHEAP-eligible households reduce their energy vulnerability under the Residential Energy Assistance Challenge Program (REACH). Training and Technical Assistance funds are authorized to conduct federal monitoring and provide training and technical assistance to recipients administering the LIHEAP block grant.

  • The Iowa Department of Public Safety was:

    • Awarded $276,931.32 through the Department of Transportation and the Department of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for state and community highway safety. The program provides a coordinated national highway safety program to reduce traffic crashes, deaths, injuries, and property damage.

    • Awarded $162,292.91 through the Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for national priority safety programs for the specific purpose of impaired driving countermeasures. The program encourages states to address national priorities for reducing highway deaths and injuries through occupant protection programs, state traffic safety information system improvements, impaired driving countermeasures, passage of effective laws to reduce distracted driving, implementation of motorcyclist safety programs, and the implementation of graduated driving licensing laws.

    • Awarded $47,192.50 through the Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for national priority safety programs for the specific purpose of state traffic safety information system improvements. The program encourages states to address national priorities for reducing highway deaths and injuries through occupant protection programs, state traffic safety information system improvements, impaired driving countermeasures, passage of effective laws to reduce distracted driving, implementation of motorcyclist safety programs, and the implementation of graduated driving licensing laws.

    • Awarded $40,870.05 through the Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for national priority safety programs for the specific purpose of occupant protection. The program encourages states to address national priorities for reducing highway deaths and injuries through occupant protection programs, state traffic safety information system improvements, impaired driving countermeasures, passage of effective laws to reduce distracted driving, implementation of motorcyclist safety programs, and the implementation of graduated driving licensing laws

In addition to the infrastructure law, the Rural Organizing Education Fund found that the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), has made millions of dollars available to all of Iowa’s 99 counties. These funds will be available for COVID recovery, public health, and community resilience programs through December 31, 2024.  This vital law, which Governor Reynolds often touts, was opposed by all the Republican members of the Iowa delegation.
 

“The mission of RuralOrganizing.org  is to rebuild a rural America that is empowered, thriving, and equitable. Follow us on Twitter @RuralOrganizing.” 

 

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