Invest in Jobs Through Disaster Relief & Dredging – By: Congressman Cedric Richmond
The economy has recently hit a stand still. Federal fiscal and monetary stimulus programs are winding down. Banks continue to lend at an anemic rate to small businesses, as loans outstanding to small firms dropped 2.4% in the first quarter. The May unemployment report concluded that the economy added only 54,000 jobs. In light of these developments, it is clear that now is the time to invest in a more sustained, broad based recovery. I have two specific ideas that will help accelerate the slow growth the country has experienced. First, we must respond to emergencies in our districts as they arise. Second, we must invest in dredging by the Army Corps of Engineers to support increased commercial activity on our nation’s waterways. By taking these simple steps, we can work to restore our communities and create jobs. Right now, every state in America is under some sort of disaster declaration and is receiving Federal disaster dollars. Every state in America currently has an active Federal Emergency Management Agency office operating in its borders. Congress must respond to the needs of Americans as they arise by investing in disaster recovery. We must immediately invest in the economic revitalization of areas that have been hard hit by the deadly combination of disaster and recession, so families can rebuild and small businesses can create jobs. As our communities rebuild their local economy and infrastructure, the Republican leadership in Congress has a heartless message for them: You’re on your own. I offered an amendment to the FY 2012 Homeland Security Appropriations bill which would have allowed for immediate emergency funding without draconian budget cuts. Republicans blocked my amendment, but I will continue to fight to ensure that Congress responds expeditiously to the needs of citizens affected by disasters. These investments will contribute to economic revitalization and job creation in these hard hit areas. In addition to providing immediate disaster relief, Congress must invest in dredging our national waterways right away. Dredging is a process which involves the removal of sediment from our rivers, ports and channels. This removal is vitally important because high levels of sediment in waterways will result in increased shipping costs. Dredging is an important job creation tool because our waterways support a large volume of commercial activity in this country. Take the Mississippi river as an example. The Mississippi River and its tributaries run the distance from New Orleans to New York City—10 times over. Its waterways transport goods to and from 30 states and 2 Canadian provinces. In 2009, $13.4 Billion of agriculture products—including two thirds of the grain from the Midwest were exported along the Mississippi. Thousands of jobs are associated with commercial activity along our waterways. Failing to maintain them is a national problem with a national impact. If the federal government does not increase funding for dredging soon, we will face higher prices at stores and reduced income for local businesses. Now more than ever, the Army Corps of Engineers need adequate funding to dredge. It is one of the few things that every single member of the bi-partisan Louisiana Congressional delegation agrees on. Congress has the power to prevent this from happening. I challenge my colleagues to act for the economic good of the entire nation by investing in dredging to facilitate more commercial activity and create jobs.