Sep 20, 2018
Press Release

Today, the Blue Dog Coalition released A Strong Rural America, an agenda that outlines the path to prosperity and restoring the American Dream in rural communities across the country. Last weekend marked the 10-year anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers, which began a global financial crisis and an economic recession—a period of time that fundamentally changed the American economy and brought about a recovery that has left behind much of rural America. The agenda is intended to provide a roadmap for Congress to take a commonsense, bipartisan approach to revitalizing rural communities and addressing the level of inequality between rural and urban America. The effort was led by Rep. Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01) and members of the Blue Dog Coalition’s Special Task Force on Rural America.
“Ten years ago, our nation experienced the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, and that period forever changed the American economy,” said Rep. Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01), Chairman of the Blue Dog Coalition’s Special Task Force on Rural America. “Although the data today shows that the country as a whole has seen economic improvement, the reality is that rural America hasn’t seen the same results. Now is the time for Washington to address the needs that are unique to rural communities, because a strong rural economy is the path to a strong American economy. That’s why we as Blue Dogs decided to take the bull by the horns and tackle this problem head on. Because we firmly believe that success in this country shouldn’t depend on your zip code.”
“For too long, Washington has taken a one-size-fits-all approach to economic policy,” said Rep. Jim Costa (CA-16), Blue Dog Co-Chair for Administration. “What works for big cities doesn’t always work for rural areas, and we as Blue Dogs know this. The current inequality of opportunity between rural and urban communities is striking, and it feeds into the divisions our country is seeing today. We’re proud to have members like Congressman O’Halleran leading efforts in Congress and in the Blue Dog Coalition to address this issue with bipartisan, commonsense solutions.”

“Rural Americans already feel left behind from the economic recovery since the Great Recession, and today, they’ve had to deal with additional, unnecessary challenges,” said Rep. Henry Cuellar (TX-28), Blue Dog Co-Chair for Communications. “Under a Republican-led White House and Congress, rural communities are struggling to overcome the challenges posed by a reckless and unnecessary trade war and skyrocketing health care costs. These hardworking Americans are fed up with partisan gridlock in Congress. It’s time for Washington to work for rural America—and the Blue Dogs are taking a key step to do that.”

“Rural Americans are known for their hard work and grit, and when opportunity arises, they always step up to the plate,” said Rep. Kurt Schrader (OR-05), member of the Blue Dog Special Task Force on Rural America. “For too long, Washington has been more focused on partisan nonsense than on legislating to solve the problems that folks face back at home. There has been plenty of lip service, but no real action. That stops now. I come from rural Oregon, and we pride ourselves on having a tight-knit community that doesn’t just work hard, but works together. I know that if we can bring those traits to Congress, we can get a heck of a lot more done.”  

A Strong Rural America focuses on the following key ways to put rural communities on the path to prosperity:
1)    Growing the rural economy;
2)    Increasing access to affordable health care;
3)    Empowering the next generation of workers with the skills they need to succeed;
4)    Expanding 21st century infrastructure to rural America in order to connect businesses with the global market;
5)    And ensuring rural veterans get the care and services they need after they return home.