Manchin Urges Federal Officials to Deliver Secure Rural School Payments ASAP
Bipartisan letter says rural communities’ SRS resources are essential in wake of government shutdown
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, today urged federal officials to deliver Secure Rural Schools (SRS) payments as quickly as possible in the aftermath of the government shutdown. Senator Manchin was joined by Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Mike Crapo (R-ID), James Risch (R-ID) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).
In their bipartisan letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and Acting Interior Department Secretary David Bernhardt, the senators said rural residents in their states are concerned about shutdown-related delays slowing the disbursement of vital SRS support for their schools, roads and public safety.
“With thousands of workers having been furloughed in rural communities across the country and with the public having lost access to many of their public lands, the government shutdown had dire consequences in many rural areas,” they wrote. “Given these concerns, please make every effort to ensure your agencies disperse SRS payments in a timely manner,” the Senators said in part.
SRS provides $1.7 million to West Virginia counties. The SRS program continues to be a critical safety net for forest counties as Senator Manchin works with others lawmakers to establish a permanent payment solution.
Please read the full letter below, or click here.
Dear Secretary Perdue and Acting Secretary Bernhardt:
We write urging you to deliver the Secure Rural Schools payments as promptly as possible, despite the recent government shutdown. County governments and schools across the country are concerned that the government shutdown will delay the United States Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service and the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management from administering fiscal year 2018 Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act (SRS) payments in a timely manner.
Over 700 counties and 4,400 school districts in more than 40 states rely on SRS payments to fund schools and essential services like roads and public safety. The SRS program continues to be a critical safety-net for forest counties as we work to establish a permanent county payments solution, diversify rural economies, improve forest management and forest health, strengthen historic forest revenue sharing with local governments and ensure that our forests provide a range of values such as wood fiber, clean water, and jobs for local economies. As you are aware, the fiscal year 2018 Omnibus spending bill included a two-year reauthorization for SRS, which retroactively covered fiscal year 2017 and fiscal year 2018. Under current law, fiscal year 2018 funds are to be dispersed as soon as possible after the close of fiscal year 2018.
With thousands of workers having been furloughed in rural communities across the country and with the public having lost access to many of their public lands, the government shutdown had dire consequences in many rural areas. Given these concerns, please make every effort to ensure your agencies disperse SRS payments in a timely manner. Please let us know as soon as possible your agency’s procedure for dispersing these payments, including when and how they will be dispersed.
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