WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand announced Thursday morning that she, along with U.S. Rep Antonio Delgado, will be reintroducing the Rebuild Rural America Act.
The legislators say the act would deliver federal resources directly to rural communities as they respond to, and recover from, the economic crisis caused by COVID-19. Both legislators spoke during a press conference Thursday morning.
Gillibrand says that the legislation is crucial for the “needs” of the rural communities.
“We must ensure that these communities have the resources that they need to address unique challenges that they face,” Gillibrand said. “Too often, rural communities can’t access the federal grants and other public resources that can help them solve these problems because they don’t have the same economic development organizations. They don’t have the grant writers or the lobbyists that the larger communities can afford and have.”
“The one size fits all nature of federal programs are not always a good fit for those communities’ specific needs.”
The bill, according to Gillibrand, would create a new $50 billion grant program, the Rural Future Partnership Fund, to provide non-competitive, five-year, renewable block grants to certified rural regions to implement locally-developed regional revitalization plans.
- Funding will be allocated proportionally based on the population of each region, with an increased allocation for regions that include areas that have a poverty rate greater than 20 percent.
- Eligible regions include those with a central community of 10,000 to 50,000 people, collections of rural census tracts or counties outside of regions with a central community of 10,000 to 50,000 people, and Indian reservations. States, in coordination with USDA, will certify the regions’ participation in the program.
Gillibrand and Delgado previously introduced a similar bill in 2019 in the Senate and House, respectively, but the bill died in both chambers.
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