WASHINGTON, D.C. — Rep. Matt Cartwright (PA-08) wants to see the reinstatement of a federal council first established by President Obama and later dissolved by President Trump. Named the White …
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Rep. Matt Cartwright (PA-08) wants to see the reinstatement of a federal council first established by President Obama and later dissolved by President Trump. Named the White House Rural Council, Cartwright calls it essential to “stimulate economic growth and unlock the enormous potential of rural America.”
Obama created the council in 2011 through executive order, naming Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack as chairman.
“The council will be responsible for providing recommendations for investment in rural areas and will coordinate federal engagement with a variety of rural stakeholders, including agricultural organizations, small businesses, and state, local and tribal governments,” said a White House release in 2011.
Encouraging private-public relationships between government agencies and rural industries, the council identified 10 primary focal points in 2011: job creation, agriculture, access to credit, innovation, local network development, health care, education, broadband, infrastructure, and conservation and utilization of public lands.
In April 2017, Trump signed an executive order disbanding the council and replacing it with a task force less focused on investment and partnerships and more on changing laws and cutting regulations.
“With this order, I’m directing Secretary [of Agriculture Sonny] Perdue to work with other members of my cabinet to identify and eliminate unnecessary regulations that hurt our nation’s farmers and rural
communities,” Trump said at the time.
Under the new Biden Administration, Vilsack has returned to serve as ag secretary once again; Cartwright is also hoping to see the White House Rural Council return.
“Rural communities are the backbone of America, providing our energy and food, serving as stewards of our natural resources, and helping drive innovation. Despite the important role rural America plays in our country, many rural towns and communities are struggling,” Cartwright wrote in a letter to Vilsack last week. “Industries relocating, health care costs and crisis, deteriorating schools and a lack of internet access have led to declining prospects for too many rural areas. These problems have only been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. It is time to write a new chapter for rural America.”
Urging action in the White House, Cartwright has launched an effort of his own in Congress, re-introducing the Transforming Hiring in Rural Industries and Vital Economies (THRIVE) Act. The bill would make the council a permanent part of the country’s legal code. Kentucky Republican Rep. Hal Rogers joined Cartwright in introducing the legislation, which has been co-sponsored by a handful of Democratic and Republican lawmakers.
Cartwright’s office implied that, if passed, the rural council would pursue similar programs as it did under the Obama administration, including an initiative to improve transportation and increase housing in small towns, an effort to develop online education resources for rural students and a water quality program to encourage conservation investments on farms.