New York’s 19th Congressional District, includes Delaware, Otsego and part of Broome counties. It’s the eighth most-rural district in the country.
Speaking with members of the media on Thursday, both Delgado and Gillibrand said they want $50 billion set aside for multi-year funds to local governments.
Instead of restrictive funding, Delgado said block grants will go to economic revitalization projects of a community’s choosing.
“The Rebuild Rural America Act would transform the federal government away from being a complicated, siloed and top-down enterprise or bureaucracy, into a more responsive, effective partner for our rural communities,” Delgado said.
The Demcrats said local projects should look at a variety of ways rural communities can rebuild their economy. Eligible projects would support local entrepreneurs, fund health care or expand internet access.
One in eight New Yorkers lives in a rural area, according to Gillibrand. She said the legislation will give local governments in those communities more flexible ways to access federal resources.
“Too often rural communities can’t access the federal grants and resources that can help them solve these problems because they don’t have the same economic development organizations,” Gillibrand said. “They don’t have the grant writers or the lobbyists that these larger communities can afford and have.”
Last year, local officials in the Southern Tier complained previous COVID-19 relief funds were too restrictive.
The lawmakers initially proposed the legislation in 2019. Although no Republican members of Congress have signed on to the legislation as of Thursday, Gillibrand said she expects bipartisan support for the measure.