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  • Congressional Black Caucus

    by Representative James E. Clyburn

    Posted on 2015-02-02

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    CLYBURN. Thank you so much, Mr. Payne, for yielding me time. I appreciate your accolades, and I promise you that my long, distant memory is getting very good, but I assure you that your contributions to this great body are very much appreciated.

    Mr. Speaker, yesterday, I opened up Black History Month with a speech at Cornerstone Baptist Church on Wayne Street in Columbia, South Carolina. They had an interesting topic for me to develop. It was all about remembering our past and preparing for the future.

    Chairman Butterfield has talked a little bit about the past that many of us remember, but 50 years after Selma, we must turn to the question that Martin Luther King, Jr., asked in one of his great books: Where do we go from here, chaos or community? Statistics show that there are nearly 500 counties and thousands of communities in the United States that are classified by the United States Census Bureau as persistent poverty areas. They are so defined because 20 percent of their populations have lived below the poverty level for the past 30 years or more.

    {time} 1945 They are diverse, including Caucasian communities in States like West Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee; Native American communities in States like South Dakota, Alaska, and Oklahoma; Latino communities in States like Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas; and African American communities in States like South Carolina, Alabama, and Mississippi. They are urban communities in States like New York and heartland communities in States like Missouri. 139 of these counties are represented in this body by Democrats; 331 of these counties are represented in this body by Republicans; and 18 of these counties are split between the two parties. Combating persistent poverty should matter to all of us, regardless of party, geography, or race.

    In early 2009, when we were putting together the Recovery Act, I proposed language to require that at least 10 percent of funds in three rural development accounts be directed to efforts in these persistent- poverty counties. This requirement was enacted into law. In light of the definition of persistent-poverty counties as having at least 20 percent poverty rates over 30 years, the provision became known as the 10-20-30 initiative.

    This initiative bore dividends as economic development projects proliferated in persistent poverty communities across the country. Using the 10-20-30 formula, the Recovery Act funded a total of 4,655 projects in persistent-poverty counties, totaling nearly $1.7 billion. I saw firsthand the positive effects of these projects in my district.

    [[Page H689]] We were able to undertake projects to create jobs that would have otherwise languished. Among those investments was a $5.8 million grant and a $2 million loan to construct 51 miles of water lines in the little community of Brittons Neck in Marion County, South Carolina. There are many other success stories.

    In Lowndes County, Mississippi, $17.5 million was spent to install a water line, elevated tank, and two wastewater pump stations, providing potable water to rural Mississippians and creating badly needed construction jobs.

    The Wellborn Special Utility District in Brazos County, Texas, received a $538,000 loan to construct more than 9 miles of new water distribution lines and connect over 60 households to a new water system.

    In 2011, I joined with our former Republican colleague, Representative Jo Ann Emerson of Missouri, to introduce an amendment to the continuing resolution that would have continued 10-20-30 for rural development and expanded it to 11 additional accounts throughout the Federal Government affecting economic development, education, job training, health, justice, the environment, and more.

    I want to make one thing clear about the 10-20-30 approach. It does not--I repeat, it does not--add one dime to the deficit. It simply targets resources from funds already authorized or appropriated.

    Over the past 30 years, the national economy has risen and fallen multiple times. During each economic downturn, while we have been rightly focused on getting the economy as a whole back on track, we have not given adequate attention to these communities that are suffering from chronic distress and Depression-era levels of joblessness.

    As a result, they have suffered even in good economic times. The 10- 20-30 approach would provide a mechanism to address this deprivation in times of want and in times of plenty, in times of Federal investment and in times of fiscal austerity.

    Last year, I wrote an essay on 10-20-30 which was published in the Harvard Journal on Legislation. I discussed the history of our Nation's efforts to address chronic poverty and more fully laid out the case for broadly implementing 10-20-30 in a bipartisan fashion.

    Mr. Speaker, as we begin to put our 2016 budget together, I look forward to working with all Members in this body on both sides of the aisle irrespective of what State or county you may represent. I look forward to working together so that we can make a real productive legacy for Selma and we can move forward and answer Dr. King's question ``Chaos or community?'' with a resounding: We are building communities.

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