Sens. Kelly, Ernst, and Colleagues Introduce The Rural Prosperity Act
Bipartisan, bicameral bill would cut bureaucratic red tape by creating a one-stop-shop that connects America’s rural communities to federal resources and programs
Today U.S. Senators Mark Kelly (D-AZ), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) introduced The Rural Prosperity Act, bipartisan legislation that would cut bureaucratic red tape by establishing the Office of Rural Prosperity, a permanent office in the White House tasked with coordinating federal efforts to support and connect America’s rural communities to federal programs and resources in order to improve outcomes for rural families and economies.
U.S. Representatives Angie Craig (D-MN-02), Dan Newhouse (R-WA-04), Cindy Axne (D-IA-03), Adrian Smith (R-NE-03), Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ-01), and Randy Feenstra (R-IA-04) introduced companion legislation in the House.
“Rural communities face different challenges and opportunities when it comes to economic development, but too often face a web of red tape and bureaucracy when it comes to federal programs. Our bipartisan legislation creates a one-stop-shop for Arizona’s rural communities to get the support to create good-paying jobs, get students the skills they need, and invest in their communities,” said Senator Kelly.
“As someone who lives and grew up in a rural community in Southwest Iowa, I know firsthand the unique challenges and opportunities of our small towns, families, and local businesses,” said Senator Ernst. “Too often Washington forgets the needs of our rural communities, which is why I’m pleased to put forward this bipartisan plan to cut red tape for rural America and to make sure we always have a voice and a seat at the decision-making table in our nation’s capital.”
“We have the unique opportunity with the Rural Prosperity Act to improve how the federal government invests in rural America and fix a system that is too narrow and inflexible to meet the specific needs of rural communities,” said Senator Gillibrand. “This bipartisan bill would create an Office of Rural Prosperity to ensure these communities have the support needed to overcome complex challenges when seeking federal support. This model has already proven to be successful and will help our rural communities continue to thrive.”
“I frequently hear from Iowans in rural communities who are having trouble navigating federal bureaucracy, making it more difficult to receive the assistance they need. While my office always stands ready to assist however we can, the Rural Prosperity Act will help Iowans identify and utilize relevant programs to overcome any challenges they’re facing,” said Senator Grassley.
“Thriving rural economies in Minnesota and across America are critical to ensuring that every American, regardless of zip code, can achieve the American Dream,” said Representative Craig. “It’s clear to me that the federal government needs to lift up rural communities and build a country where every American can benefit from our growing economy. I’m proud to lead this bipartisan and bicameral effort to reverse that trend by creating – for the first time in American history – a permanent office in the White House fully focused on rural economic prosperity.”
“Rural communities like Central Washington are the heart of this country, and face unique challenges from access to broadband to varying infrastructure needs. Adding an Office of Rural Prosperity will not only ensure these vital voices have a seat at the table, but boost local economies nationwide,” said Rep. Newhouse. “I’m honored to help lead this effort in the House on behalf of Central Washington, and I urge my colleagues to help pass this legislation and provide the support our rural communities need.”
“Far too often I hear from folks in rural Iowa who are concerned that the issues they’re facing aren’t being prioritized at the very top,” said Rep. Axne. “Overwhelmed and inflexible programs make it difficult for rural Iowans to get the help they need, which is why I’m proud to be introducing the Rural Prosperity Act. This important piece of legislation will increase the representation of rural America at the executive level, something I’ve been very passionate about during my time in Congress. I’m honored to help lead this effort in the House, and I urge my colleagues to join us in delivering sorely needed support to folks all across rural America.”
“Time and time again, we’ve seen the federal government overlook and undervalue rural America. Many communities in the First District had not fully recovered from the Great Recession when the COVID-19 pandemic hit,” said Rep. O’Halleran, who represents one of the largest and most rural congressional districts in America. “From Safford near the southern edge of our district, stretching all the way up to Page at our northern border, we’ve seen continued disinvestment by the federal government in areas where honest Arizonans are working hard to grow their communities and support their children. I’m proud to join Senator Kelly and my colleagues in the House to introduce this legislation that establishes a permanent office at the White House dedicated to supporting rural communities.”
“When it comes to navigating the federal bureaucracy, our rural communities often face heightened barriers and burdensome red tape to access the resources they need to grow and thrive,” said Rep. Randy Feenstra. “The Rural Prosperity Act will help consolidate and deliver federal assistance to our families, farmers, and producers – whether it be derecho relief or broadband expansion. This is an important, bipartisan victory for our local communities and rural main streets, and I am proud to support it.”
“We want to thank Senator Kelly for introducing the Rural Prosperity Act. At Rural Organizing, we have long believed there is a great need for an office in the White House that can coordinate across departments and agencies to ensure that dollars earmarked for rural Americans stay in rural communities and are spent effectively. Senator Kelly’s legislation will help improve the lives and economies of rural communities,” said Matt Hildreth, Executive Director for Rural Organizing.
Currently, there are more than 400 federal programs dedicated to helping rural communities, spread across 13 departments, and over 50 offices and sub-agencies which can create siloed, duplicative, and ineffective bureaucracy. The bipartisan Rural Prosperity Act would ensure better coordination across federal agencies by:
- Establishing the Office of Rural Prosperity within the White House to coordinate rural economic development programs across government. The office would be led by a Chief Rural Advisor, who will be appointed by the President and be responsible for coordinating all federal rural development efforts.
- Forming a Rural Prosperity Council which consists of members of all of the heads of executive branch departments, agencies, and offices that have programs that serve rural areas. The Council would serve as a forum to resolve interagency disputes and coordinate a whole-of-government effort to address the needs of rural communities across the country.
- Developing a comprehensive strategy for rural economic development across the Executive Branch.
- Engaging with stakeholders, including convening public hearings, to identify common challenges faced by rural areas.
- Making recommendations on how to coordinate, streamline, and leverage existing Federal investments to address challenges faced by rural areas.
- Developing a common set of metrics to ensure that all rural development programs are meeting a common set of evidence-backed standards.
“The passage of this bipartisan bill would be a great benefit to Cottonwood and other rural Arizona communities like ours. Rural communities are under-resourced and simply don’t have the means to wade through the often-confusing breadth and scope of federal communication and grants available and too often federal assistance is mired in red tape. Senator Kelly’s bill would create a direct pipeline to Washington and a one-stop-shop opportunity for smaller communities to seek grants. Greater Arizona drives the economy, attracts tourism, and is the recreational playground for our metro neighbors, therefore it is important we who call rural Arizona home have equal opportunity to receive any federal assistance available. I support the Rural Prosperity Act and look forward to its passage,” said Tim Elinski, Mayor of Cottonwood, Arizona.
“Coconino County has had its fair share of federal interactions, whether it was with USDA, SBA, or EDA, and it is clear that these processes are not always simple. In the search for help or resources, so many rural communities give up along the way just because of the obstacles they face. Senator Kelly’s new bipartisan bill will alleviate these hurdles by creating an information and resource hub that will ensure rural towns have the tools they need to leverage federal programs and execute their long term economic plans so that they can grow and prosper for decades to come,” said Patrice Horstman, Coconino County Supervisor for District 1.
“We strongly support Senator Kelly’s bill as it addresses one of our major issues, the ability to coordinate with various federal institutions and departments as we seek additional resources for our community. Major cities have the ability to dedicate entire teams of people to gathering information. Having a single point of contact evens out the playing field. Our issues are too important and they deserve the focused attention across the spectrum of agencies that can bring resources to bear for rural Arizona and the rural parts of our nation,” said Gerardo Sanchez, Mayor of the City of San Luis, Arizona.
Read the text of the Rural Prosperity Act HERE.