August 01, 2013

Wyden Stands Up for Rural Counties

S. 101 could end payments to more than 700 counties, jeopardize $106 million for Oregon timber communities

Washington, D.C. –To protect Secure Rural Schools payments, which provide vital funding for counties in Oregon and across the country, Senator Ron Wyden, D-Ore., today placed a public hold on S. 101, a bill to prohibit the provision of federal funds to state and local governments for payment of obligations.

The Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act funds schools, roads and law-enforcement services in rural and timber counties across the country, to compensate for the loss of funding generated on federal lands.

“This language as it is written would deal a huge body blow to more than 700 rural and forested counties across the United States,” Wyden said. “[The Secure Rural Schools program] is a lifeline for these hard-hit rural communities that are walking on a tightrope, trying to balance how they’re going to keep their schools open and how they’re going to have law enforcement.”

“Given the fact that this language does not clarify the status of the Secure Rural Schools program, I have to object and I’m going to continue to object until it does,” Wyden said.

A video of Wyden’s full remarks is available here.

Earlier this year, more than 700 counties received about $329 million under the program. Oregon counties received more than $100 million.

Wyden said he will hold the bill until it is changed or clarified to ensure it does not block Secure Rural Schools payments. 

A hold is an informal procedure that prevents the Senate from moving forward with a bill or nomination. Wyden published a public notice of his hold in the Congressional Record, as he does for all holds. In 2011 the Senate adopted Wyden’s proposal to end “secret holds,” and require senators to disclose within two days when they have placed a hold.