As the legislative steward of the country’s eighth most rural congressional district, U.S. Rep. Anthony Delgado envisions a massive federal block grant program that would allow rural regions to cooperate on health care, internet access and other key services.
Delgado, a Democrat representing New York’s 19th District, has put that vision into action as a sponsor of the Rebuild Rural America Act, which addresses many of the social, economic and health issues that UUP has also addressed in its legislative agenda, New York HEALS (Health care, education, access, leadership, sustainability). Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York is the Senate sponsor.
He shared his ideas with more than 30 UUP members and guests during an exclusive May 18 virtual Town Hall hosted by UUP.
“There are real challenges for rural districts like ours,” Delgado said. “This would be a $50 billion block grant that can go to regions for health care networks, broadband access, incubator businesses. We need to make sure we have a bucket of money to access care in these rural regions.”
UUP President Fred Kowal, whose home campus of SUNY Cobleskill joins Delhi, Oneonta and New Paltz as SUNY state-operated campuses in the congressman’s district, gave a warm introduction to Delgado. Kowal described Delgado as “immensely popular” with his constituents and noted that more than 2,500 UUP members live and work in the 19th District.
MONEY TO GREAT SUNY CAMPUSES
Delgado listed the funding that went to SUNY state-operated campuses in his district under the American Rescue Plan, a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package signed into law by President Biden in March. The law provided $8 million to Delhi, $7.5 million to Cobleskill, $19 million to New Paltz and $16 million to Oneonta.
“These are real dollars, going to outstanding institutions doing incredible work,” he said.
The 19th District—to which Delgado was elected for a second term last fall—stretches east from the Southern Tier to the Massachusetts border, and reaches from the lower Hudson Valley to just south of New York’s North Country. Although it does not contain any SUNY hospitals, Delgado said he is keenly aware of the issues facing those hospitals.
In response to a question about the staggering burdens the hospitals still face after the COVID-19 surges that lasted into early 2021, he said he cannot promise forgiveness of their federal coronavirus relief loans, but that he will press for extensions on the start of repayment.
A WARNING ON JAN. 6 ATTACK
Delgado had to leave the town hall about 40 minutes into the scheduled hour-long session for a series of votes on the House floor, explaining as he departed that he has never missed a vote. Among the items likely to be considered: the formation of a bipartisan commission to examine the armed Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, which resulted in several deaths and hours of terror for lawmakers and staff.
Before he left, Delgado referenced that day with a warning, in response to a question about the need to protect voting rights.
“We are no doubt at a tipping point right now when it comes to protecting our democracy,” he said.
The Delgado forum was the first of UUP’s three planned town halls with members of Congress. Members will meet with representatives Joe Morelle (D-25th District) May 25 and Tom Suozzi (D-3rd District) June 2.
Go HERE to register for the town hall with Rep. Morelle.
Go HERE to register for the town hall with Rep. Suozzi.