WALDEN ANNOUNCES INTENT TO VOTE AGAINST BILL TO FUND FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IF "COUNTY PAYMENTS" NOT INCLUDED
Congressman calls stopgap spending bill without funding for counties a breach of faith
January 27, 2007 - HOOD RIVER, ORE. -
In a meeting this morning with Hood River County Board of Commissioners Chairman Ron Rivers, Congressman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) announced that unless funding for the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act (county payments) is in the forthcoming stopgap spending bill to fund government operations — known as a Continuing Resolution (CR) — he will vote against the bill’s passage. A CR was passed at the end of the 109th Congress and it expires on February 15. Another CR must be approved by Congress by February 15 to fund vital government functions.
“The federal government faces an extreme funding crisis if another CR is not approved next month by Congress,” Walden said. “However, Oregon’s county governments and rural schools are already experiencing a funding emergency since Congress has not reauthorized and funded the essential county payments program. The federal government made a pact with forested communities nearly a century ago, and it’s high time this pact be upheld. I will not support a funding package that breaches the federal government’s promise to our counties and schools. If the federal government does not fulfill its obligation to the county payments program in the Continuing Resolution, I will express my opposition loudly and vote against it.”
Walden and Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) have already written to the House leadership asking that a one-year extension of the county payments program be included in the CR.
Walden is in the midst of an 18-speech series on the House floor aimed at educating his fellow legislators about the real-life impacts to counties and rural schools should the funding not be renewed. Each speech focuses on a different county in Oregon’s Second District and the consequences of terminated funding. He and DeFazio are also planning a one-hour special order — a one-hour open dialogue before the full House of Representatives — on February 8 that will go into depth about the importance of the program to counties across the country.
“Many counties are faced with choosing between schools and law enforcement, between roads and libraries,” Walden said. “The layoff notices are being prepared. The consequences of the federal government breaking its promise to timbered communities will be dire. They are facing an emergency in every sense of the word.”
Walden and DeFazio introduced, on the very first day of the new Congress, H.R. 17, a bill which would reauthorize the county payments program for seven years.
A complete schedule of Walden’s floor speeches is included below, and it can also be accessed by clicking here. The text of Walden’s completed speeches, for Jackson County, Klamath County, Josephine County, Grant County, and Lake County are also available online at www.walden.house.gov.
Congressman Walden represents 20 counties in central, southern and eastern Oregon, and is a member of the Committee on Energy and Commerce. He and his wife have owned and managed a small business in the beautiful Columbia River Gorge area for over 20 years.