Congressman Clyburn’s Influence Seen in House Passed

Jan 28, 2009 Issues: Economy and Jobs

(Washington, DC) -- Sixth District Congressman and House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn hailed passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act today by the House of Representatives.  This legislation is intended to create or save 3 to 4 million American jobs over the next four years, and will invest $3.2 billion over the next 10 years in strengthening South Carolina’s economy.  It also reflects the influence of the House Majority Whip.

“Whenever I approach legislation in Congress, I view the bill through the lens of South Carolina and the needs of my constituents,” Congressman Clyburn said.  “Because of the potential impact of this economic recovery package, I worked to protect South Carolina’s interests and ensure the Palmetto state would benefit from these crucial federal investments.

“Our Governor has repeatedly expressed political and philosophical aversion to using federal assistance as we work our way out of the economic conditions that are visiting significant difficulties upon businesses and families throughout our beloved state,” Congressman Clyburn continued.  “The leadership of the South Carolina General Assembly sees it differently, and I have worked with them to ensure that South Carolinians receive the benefits of these federal investments.”

As House Majority Whip, Congressman Clyburn had a seat at the table as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was being developed.  Congressman Clyburn made his arguments before President Obama and the House and Senate leadership, and insisted upon including in this bill provisions that allow the South Carolina General Assembly to receive and allocate federal investments if the Governor refuses to do so.

He also championed the effort to invest in rural communities, especially those historically left behind.  The legislation passed by the House today includes language that requires at least ten percent of rural development funds included in the package will be dedicated to persistent poverty counties that are defined by having 20 percent or more of its population living in poverty over the past 30 years.  There are 12 South Carolina counties eligible for these funds -- Allendale, Hampton, Jasper, Colleton, Bamberg, Orangeburg, Clarendon, Lee Williamsburg, Marion, Dillon and Marlboro counties -- all along the I-95 corridor.

“South Carolina currently has the third highest unemployment rate in the nation, and in some of these persistent poverty counties the rate has soared as high as 19 percent,” Congressman Clyburn continued.  “It is time that investments are made where they are needed most.  If the state is unwilling to provide adequate assistance to these communities, as their representative in Congress, it is my duty to make sure they are not neglected.”

Congressman Clyburn also offered two amendments that were included in the final version of the bill.   The first sets a timetable for Governors to request the federal.  If the funds are not requested by the Governor within 45 days, the state legislature can make the request rather than have it revert back to the federal Treasury.

“With such challenging economic times, I would have failed my fellow South Carolinians if I had not worked to ensure that the federal money allocated for our state is spent on vital projects that will benefit the greater good and provide much needed jobs at home,” Congressman Clyburn stated.  

Congressman Clyburn’s second amendment waives the match required for ready-to-go historic preservation projects on Historically Black College and University campuses and provides an additional 15 million dollars for such projects.  These are projects that have already received approval of the National Parks Service and are simply waiting for adequate funding to begin renovations.  This amendment temporarily suspends law authored by Congressman Clyburn in 2002 that lowered the match for HBCU historic preservation projects from 50 percent to 30 percent on building and structures that were identified by the National Trust as endangered treasures.  Despite the lower match rate, many HBCUs struggled to raise the match needed to draw down the federal funding, and many worthy projects are sitting untouched or partially finished due to lack of financing.

“I am proud this amendment will help preserve our history, improve our historic higher education institutions, and create jobs in local communities,” Congressman Clyburn concluded.

There are a number of other provisions in the legislation that Congressman Clyburn championed during its development:
 

  • Rural Internet Access: $6 billion to expand broadband internet access so businesses in rural and other underserved areas can link up to the global economy.
  • College Affordability: Making college more affordable through tax credits for college tuition for up to $2,500 per year of school and increasing the Pell Grant by $500.  Expanding access to a college education builds the foundation for long-term economic growth.
  • Title I Grants: $26 billion to boost learning in local school districts through Title I grants ($13 billion) to help disadvantaged students reach high academic standards and IDEA Special Education grants ($13 billion) to help special needs children succeed.
  • Improving Bond Markets: Reinvigorating the Market for State and Local Government Bonds will create jobs by getting local projects moving, and providing tax credit and exempt bonds to areas hurt by the recession.
  • Summer Jobs: Provide summer jobs for 1 million youth and job training to nearly 450,000 disadvantaged adults and dislocated workers.
  • Rural Business-Cooperative Service: $100 million for rural business grants and loans to guarantee $2 billion in loans for rural businesses at a time of unprecedented demand due to the credit crunch. Private sector lenders are increasingly turning to this program to help businesses get access to capital.
  • Education for Homeless Children and Youth: $66 million for formula grants to states to provide services to homeless children including meals and transportation when high unemployment and home foreclosures have created an influx of homeless kids.
  • Community Health Centers: $1.5 billion, including $500 million to increase the number of uninsured Americans who receive quality healthcare and $1 billion to renovate clinics and make health information technology improvements. More than 400 applications submitted earlier this year for new or expanded CHC sites remain unfunded.
  • Training Primary Care Providers: $600 million to address shortages and prepare our country for universal healthcare by training primary healthcare providers including doctors, dentists, and nurses as well as helping pay medical school expenses for students who agree to practice in underserved communities through the National Health Service Corps.
  • Neighborhood Stabilization: $4.2 billion to help communities purchase and rehabilitate foreclosed, vacant properties in order to create more affordable housing and reduce neighborhood blight.
  • Homeless Assistance Grants: $1.5 billion for the Emergency Shelter Grant program to provide short term rental assistance, housing relocation, and stabilization services for families during the economic crisis. Funds are distributed by formula.
  • Rural Housing Insurance Fund: $500 million to support $22 billion in direct loans and loan guarantees to help rural families and individuals buy homes during the credit crunch. Last year these programs received a record number of applications.

Congressman Clyburn whipped the vote on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and it passed with a vote of 244 to 188.

This legislation is still subject to change.  The Senate is developing its own recovery package, which is expected to be very different than the House-passed legislation.  The two versions must then be reconciled in a conference committee before it final bill can be sent to President Obama for his signature.

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American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

Investments in South Carolina

Total = $3.2 Billion

 

Covering State Shortfalls
State budget deficit offset/fiscal stabilization:      $ 905.09 million

Financial Assistance Programs
Food Stamps                                                   $389.2 million
Supplemental Social Security Income (SSI)      $60.3 million

Transportation & Infrastructure
Highways/Bridges construction/repair:               $ 479.86 million
Public-transit systems                                        $34.19 million
Water-treatment plants/sewers/pipelines            $59.47 million

Education
School construction/modernization (K-12)         $ 208.72 million
Education/Disabled students                              $ 200.79 million
Poor school districts (Title I)                              $191.31 million
Education technology grants                               $13.82 million
Head Start program                                           $9.92 million
Child-care and development grants                     $36.32 million
College/University construction/modernization     $82.7 million
Pell Grants                                                         $349.59 million

Law Enforcement
Law-enforcement grants                                     $57.15 million

Health
Preventative health/health services grant              $3.83 million
Elderly nutrition services                                     $3.11 million

Community Assistance
Employment services/Job training                        $65.98 million
Homeless shelters and services                           $15.9 million
Community services block grant                          $15.36 million
Low-Income Home Energy Assistance program  $6.64 million