The Barbed Wire - October 11, 2019

October 11, 2019
Federal PILT and Secure Rural Schools Update
Appropriations Turnover

Federal PILT and Secure Rural Schools Update

Last week, a coalition of 31 senators submitted a letter addressed to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) requesting a two-year reauthorization of Federal Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) and Secure Rural Schools (SRS) be attached to the final appropriations omnibus spending bill for Fiscal 2020.  SRS funding expired at the end of Fiscal 2018, and Federal PILT is scheduled to expire at the end of Fiscal 2019.  

Originally slated to end on September 30th, Fiscal 2019 was extended through November 21st by a continuing resolution to allow members more time to negotiate appropriations for Fiscal 2020.

Led by Senators Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), and Jim Risch (R-Idaho), the bipartisan coalition represented a broad range of western states that are dependent on funding through Federal PILT and SRS.  Attaching a two-year reauthorization to Federal PILT and SRS to the final funding package for Fiscal 2020 is critical to ensure rural counties maintain their financial stability.

Congress will resume negotiations for Fiscal 2020 funding when members return from recess next week.  Legislators from both the House and Senate are expected to continue their advocacy on behalf of Federal PILT, SRS, and other federally funded programs that are critical for local economies throughout rural America.

Appropriations Turnover

Congress was taken by surprise this week by the retirement of House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-New York).  On Thursday, Chairwoman Lowey announced she would finish out the remainder of her term, but will not seek reelection in 2020.  

Her retirement, and the competition to claim her gavel, will shakeup one of the most influential committees in Congress.  Unlike the Senate, where committee leadership positions are largely determined by seniority, House leadership weighs a variety of political and legislative factors when selecting chairs for key committees.  The resulting shakeup among the subcommittee chairs could potentially determine which member controls funding for rural programs in the next Congress.

Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-Connecticut), Chairwoman of the Appropriations Subcommittee for Labor-Education-Health and Human Services, is considered the leading candidate to succeed Chairwoman Lowey.  Representative Peter Visclosky (D-Indiana), Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee for Defense, told reporters immediately after Lowey’s announcement he would not seek her position and Chairman Jose Serrano (D-New York), who helms the Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce-Justice-Science, announced his own retirement earlier this year.  With Chairmen Visclosky and Serrano out of the running, the main challenger to Chairwoman DeLauro would be Representative Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), the most senior Democrat on the committee.  As previously discussed, seniority is not the sole factor for a chairmanship and Kaptur was passed over in 2012 when Lowey herself became ranking member instead.  Turnover among the Appropriations Subcommittee chairs, often referred to as “cardinals” for the amount of power and influence they wield, has rippling effects throughout the committee.  Changes among the cardinals could reshape who distributes funding for rural programs in the 117th Congress.


Announcements regarding hearings, grants, and public comment notices of importance to California's rural counties.

Fish and Game Commission Requests Stakeholder Input on What it Means to be a “Coastal Fishing Community”

On Friday, October 18th from 1-4pm, the California Fish and Game Commission’s Marine Resources Committee has invited stakeholders and the public to formulate a working definition of a “coastal fishing community” with Commission staff.  This definition will be used to inform the discussions of the Marine Resources Committee.  Conference call-in information will be provided to participants who RSVP to


The Department of Veteran Affairs – Highly Rural Transportation Grants: The VA is offering a grant for transportation of veterans in highly rural areas (VA-HRTG-NEW-2019). It is for potential first time grantees and is a grant-based program that helps Veterans in highly rural areas travel to VA or VA-authorized health care facilities. This program provides grant funding to Veteran Service Organizations and State Veterans Service Agencies to provide transportation services in eligible counties. The deadline to apply is October 31, 2019.


Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture Tribal Colleges Research Grants Program: This program was designed to assist 1994 Land-Grant Institutions (Tribal Colleges) in building institutional research capacity through applied projects that address student educational needs and meet community, reservation or regional challenges. Eligible institutions may propose projects in any discipline of the food, agricultural or natural resource sciences. The deadline to apply, November 1, 2019


Housing and Urban Development, Choice Neighborhoods Implementation Grant Program: The Choice Neighborhoods program helps communities transform neighborhoods by redeveloping severely distressed public and/or HUD-assisted housing and catalyzing critical improvements in the neighborhood, including vacant property, housing, businesses, services and schools. The deadline to apply, November 4, 2019

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is seeking seek proposals for creative, scalable, strategic new ways to generate awareness of the structural and historic barriers to economic mobility; to communicate that poverty is not just something that happens to other people and everyone is deserving of the chance to move out of it; and to change the predominant misconceptions about poverty in a way that creates the conditions for effective programs and policies to be adopted by the public and private sectors. The deadline to apply is November 13, 2019 11:30AM PST.


Rural Health Network Development Planning Program: Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), The Federal Office of Rural Health Policy offers the opportunity to apply for funding under the Rural Health Network Development Planning Program (“Network Planning”). The purpose of the Network Planning program is to assist in the development of an integrated health care network, specifically with network participants who do not have a history of formal collaborative efforts. Network Planning goals are: (i) to achieve efficiencies; (ii) to expand access to, coordinate, and improve the quality of essential health care services; and (iii) to strengthen the rural health care system as a whole. The deadline to apply is November 29, 2019 


The National Rural Health Information Clearinghouse Program: Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), The Federal Office of Rural Health Policy is offering a grant up to $2,500,000 for domestic organizations (which includes faith based, community based, and tribal) with the goal of improving population health in rural areas. The deadline to apply is December 2, 2019.