Today, U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) announced that he has secured a budget increase to benefit the Lewis and Clark Regional Water Project in the budget that's being debated this week in the Senate.
Two weeks ago, Sen. Franken sent a letter to Senate Budget Committee Chair Patty Murray (D-Wash.) urging her to include targeted savings in the budget resolution along with critical investments in infrastructure projects that will benefit Minnesota. Specifically, Sen. Franken pressed to increase the budget for the Bureau of Reclamation Rural Water Supply, the government program that oversees funding for Lewis and Clark.
"The lack of federal funding for the Lewis and Clark project has thrown a roadblock in the way of critical economic development in Southwestern Minnesota," said Sen. Franken. "These towns and counties have ponied up their share of the money, and it's time for the federal government do the same. I'm very pleased that the Senate Budget Committee listened to my request and increased the budget for rural water projects like Lewis and Clark. Folks in the region need this water and they need it now."
Sen. Franken has been actively fighting to get the federal government to pay its promised share of the funding for Lewis and Clark since coming to the Senate. In early February, Sen. Franken and a bipartisan group of senators sent a letter to Acting Office of Management and Budget Director Jeffrey Zients, urging him to prioritize funding for the water project as he begins to finalize decisions about funding levels in the administration's upcoming budget. He has also continually pressed Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to get the needed money to finish the project, including during a Senate hearing.
Sen. Franken plans to introduce several amendments to the Senate's budget plan later this week in order to protect the priorities of Minnesotans. His amendments will focus on workforce development, college affordability, and rural broadband connectivity.