Bonamici Questions Legal Basis for Secure Rural Schools Funding Take Back
Washington, D.C.— Representative Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) has joined with Representative Derek Kilmer (D-WA) and 17 other Members of Congress in questioning the legal basis for retroactive cuts to federal Secure Rural Schools funds that have already been dispersed. In a letter sent today to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget Jeffrey Zients, the members expressed grave concern about the retroactive cuts. Bonamici also expressed disappointment at Congress for failing to work together to repeal the sequester.
“The decision to force states to refund the federal government is bad policy built on shaky legal ground,” said Bonamici. “The administration should explain its legal rational and provide more flexibility to states, but Congress also has a responsibility to act. We should be working together to repeal the sequester as soon as possible. These across-the-board cuts are a terrible way to make policy. I wasn’t in Congress when they were adopted, but I have repeatedly voted to replace the sequester with a more balanced approach. It’s time for Congress to stop blaming the White House and start working together to correct the problem.”
Many communities, including communities within Oregon’s 1st Congressional District, rely on funds known as “Secure Rural Schools” payments to fund education, roads, and wildfire mitigation projects. The Forest Service has requested that 42 states, including Oregon, refund $17.5 million in payments that were already made in January of this year. The Department of Agriculture now claims that these payments, which many communities have already dedicated for important projects, are subject to the mandatory across-the-board cuts.
The letter to Secretary Vilsack and Acting Director Zients is here.