January 23, 2007
Press Release

Before the full House of Representatives, Congressman Walden delivers speech outlining what is at stake for Grant County

January 23, 2007 - WASHINGTON, D.C. -
Congressman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) today addressed the House of Representatives to explain the dire consequences facing Grant County should funding for the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act be discontinued. Walden and Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) introduced H.R. 17 on January 4, the first day of the 110th Congress, a bill which would reauthorize the Act for seven years. The Act expired in September 2006, and without prompt reauthorization and funding, approximately 4,400 school districts in 615 counties in 39 states will have essential federal funding severed.
The speech before the House, the fourth in a series of 18 that will each day focus on a specific county in Oregon’s Second Congressional District that receives funds from the essential program, follows:
“Madame Speaker. The failure of Congress to reauthorize the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act amounts to a breach of faith to more than 600 forested counties across America.
“For Grant County, Oregon, where 61 percent of the land in the county is federal, this means the School District will be forced to eliminate essential school programs and nearly double class sizes, delay school repairs and begin telling teachers, administrators and staff who stays and who goes.
“School Superintendent Newell Cleaver puts it this way: 'We are watching our infrastructure being destroyed as this issue is debated by the Congress. This program is the difference between rural schools remaining competitive with urban schools or not.'
“Grant County Commissioner Boyd Britton says, 'If the federal government would simply allow us to manage these natural resources, we wouldn’t need these funds, however losing these funds will be felt by every man, woman and child in the county, especially the school children.'
“My colleagues, Congress needs to pass H.R. 17 and keep the Federal Government's word to timbered communities. Time is running out for them.”
Congressman Walden represents 20 counties in central, southern and eastern Oregon. He is a Deputy Whip in the House Leadership Structure and a member of the Committee on Energy and Commerce.