Graves unveils bill to improve access to federal grants for rural broadband deployment

by Ripon Advance News Service

U.S. Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO) on April 14 introduced legislation to ensure rural and low-income communities can more readily use Economic Development Administration (EDA) grants to develop high-speed broadband services.

“This bill will help spur projects under EDA programs to give rural and poor communities more online access to medical care, schools, the workplace, food, and other essential services,” Rep. Graves said. “Looking beyond the nation’s current health emergency and towards our economic recovery, providing more avenues to develop broadband will also help these communities attract more jobs and business.”

Rep. Graves sponsored the Eliminating Barriers to Rural Internet Development Grant Eligibility (E-BRIDGE) Act, H.R. 6491, with lead original cosponsor U.S. Rep. John Katko (R-NY) to amend the Public Works and Economic Development Act of 1965 to provide for a high-speed broadband deployment initiative, according to the congressional record bill summary.

If enacted, the bill would reduce barriers for broadband projects under EDA grants, such as difficult last-mile efforts that often delay rural broadband deployment, according to Rep. Graves’ office.

“With north Missourians currently being asked to stay home due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the necessity of access to broadband service is more clear than ever,” said Rep. Graves. “Completing the ‘last mile,’ in particular, is critical to ensuring that rural Americans are able to access high-speed internet.”

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Missourinet: Missouri GOP Congressman: COVID-19 outbreak is unlike anything we’ve ever seen

A northern Missouri congressman who’s a dean in the state’s congressional delegation says the $2 trillion economic stimulus package is aimed at helping America emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic stronger.

U.S. Rep. Sam Graves, R-Tarkio, represents 36 counties in northern Missouri (file photo courtesy of Congressman Graves’ office)

U.S. Rep. Sam Graves, R-Tarkio, voted for the bill on Friday. He says the bill provides $350 billion to the Small Business Administration (SBA), to supply main street businesses with the capital they need to keep the lights on and their workers on the payroll.

“And as long as they (main street businesses) continue to keep them on the payroll through July 2, then that becomes forgiven,” Graves says.

Governor Mike Parson has warned that thousands of Missourians will lose their jobs due to the outbreak. Congressman Graves says the stimulus boosts unemployment benefits for the millions of Americans who’ve lost their jobs.

Graves represents 36 counties in northern Missouri. His sprawling district is larger than nine U.S. states, and includes St. Joseph, Chillicothe, Bethany, Kirksville and Hannibal.

Read more. Graves and citizens of Craig speak out on issues with Corps of Engineers

Thursday morning, Congressman Sam Graves and State Rep. Allen Andrews visited the people of Holt County and Atchison County where water continued to rise and citizens were still being evacuated in towns all along the Missouri River.

“It’s a hard thing to see it,” Graves said. “These are friends and family and neighbors, and you see homes that are completely inundated and farms that are completely inundated. You go up and down the river, and you see grain bins that have popped because of the grain that’s in them that have swelled.”

Andrews said the flood will be life-changing for the people he represents in District 1.

One resident who is having to flee her home for the third time in Craig said she is reuniting and grieving with her neighbors at a shelter in nearby Mound City.

“When we saw the pictures of our homes, we all sat down and cried yesterday,” said Janice Gladden. “Craig has always been a community that has done things together. You gotta stop and think, how much your family means to you and your friends and your neighbors.”

Gladden is just one of the citizens that was forced to leave behind her home in Craig this week, leaving behind family photos, clothing and valuables. Gladden said all she has with her is a change of clothes, her husband and her five dogs who are being kept at a relative’s house.

While the Red Cross’s shelter at First Christian Church was serving around 15 residents of Craig, the mayor of Forest City issued a suggested evacuation to the citizens while the Exide Technologies battery plant was under a mandatory evacuation. The Red Cross said they planned to open more shelters in Troy, Kansas, and St. Joseph to help with the evacuations.

“A lot of people say, I’d do this or I’d do that, but you know that when it comes down to it, the good Lord’s going to tell you what to do,” Gladden said. “When you’re in a situation like all of us were, we didn’t walk out of our house until the water was on the ground.”

Gladden said that she blames the Army Corps of Engineers for the flooding, claiming that they want the area of Marshlands.

“I wish Congress, these senators and congressmen, could go through what we’re going through now, one time, just one time,” Gladden said. “And one of them, just one could open his mouth and tell the rest of them what he’s gone through, what we’re going through.”

Graves said that he is not happy with the way the Missouri River has been managed.

“That goes back to the management of the river. The priority is no longer navigation and flood control. The priority is fish and wildlife and that’s where we have a real problem with the Corps.”

Graves said while the destruction is widespread and devastating, he believes the people of Missouri will bounce back.

“It’s a tough battle, but you know what, the folks in Northwest Missouri, they’re pretty resilient and pretty tough people. They’ll pick themselves up and move forward.”

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St. Joseph News-Press Editorial Board: Return Graves to House

U.S. Rep. Sam Graves seeks a 10th term in Congress and the chance to be the next chairman of the influential House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

It should not be lost on voters of Missouri’s 6th District that a victory for Graves also could be victory for them.

The Republican from Tarkio is in position to contend for this assignment because of his tenure — twice that of his chief rival, a representative from California — and his previous leadership roles, including chairman of the Small Business Committee and chairman of the Transportation Subcommittee on Highways and Transit.

It also is to his credit that Graves comes from a farming background and the only congressional district with boundaries on both the Missouri and Mississippi rivers. He has keen insights into the importance of transportation nationally and to agricultural producers who require a safe and efficient means to get their goods to market.

Graves also has been a voice of reason in calling for the U.S. Corps of Engineers to prioritize flood control and the human population over protection of wildlife habitat along the Missouri River.

On other issues, Graves has been a consistent conservative vote in line with the views of many of his constituents. He advocates for 2nd Amendment rights, was an early proponent of building a wall on the southern U.S. border to stem illegal immigration, and strongly supported the 2017 tax law to lessen taxes on businesses and individuals as a means to stimulate the economy.

Graves spoke out against scrapping the trade deal with Mexico and Canada, but said, “After 24 years, renegotiation was necessary not only to make sure we had the best deal, but to compete in the 21st century.” He has praised the new trade terms with the two countries for helping dairy and poultry farmers and for creating less incentive to move auto manufacturing to Mexico.

A pilot himself, Graves also sits on the Armed Services Committee and has worked effectively to protect the interests of the Air National Guard base in St. Joseph.

The Democratic nominee, Henry Martin of Kansas City, is an educator, coach and Army veteran who served in the Persian Gulf. Martin argues it is time for a change, but he cannot demonstrate he would be a better representative on such important district issues as highways, agriculture and economic development.

We endorse Sam Graves for re-election to the U.S. House on Nov. 6.

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Herald-Whig Editorial: Graves has earned right to keep seat in U.S. House

U.S. REP. Sam Graves has been a champion for progress and prosperity in Northern Missouri during his nearly 18 years in Congress.

He is seeking re-election to a 10th term, and we commend him to voters.

Graves, a Republican from Tarkio, has worked to advance a pro-growth, pro-jobs, pro-small-business agenda to meet the needs of a district that stretches across the northern one-third of the state.

He understands what is necessary to create and retain well-paying jobs, and he recognizes that continuing to upgrade the state’s transportation infrastructure leads that list.

Graves serves on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, which deals with roads, bridges, waterways, railroads and airports. As a senior member, he plans to seek the chairmanship of that panel in the next Congress if Republicans maintain their majority. If successful, that would give this region a strong voice on significant issues.

Graves believes it is essential to look at 21st century alternatives for generating revenue for the Highway Trust Fund. The federal gasoline tax rate of 18.4 cents per gallon was set in 1993, and it has lost 43 percent of its buying power because of inflation, the increasing efficiency of conventional cars and the popularity of electric vehicles.

He noted that in 2015, the year Congress passed the most recent five-year highway bill, federal transportation taxes collected just $39 billion in gas tax revenue to support $52 billion in program commitments. The Congressional Budget Office predicts gas tax revenue will continue its steep decline.

While saying “all options are on the table,” Graves supports replacing the gas tax with a tax on vehicle miles traveled (VMT). He believes a modest VMT user fee on personal and commercial vehicles could raise enough funding to replace the gas tax and exceed current infrastructure obligations.

Congress approved $95 million in the FAST Act to support state experiments with VMT fees. Fourteen Western states are studying everything from pay-at-the-pump options for VMT to interoperability issues when drivers cross state borders, but it could take a decade to implement.

In the meantime, Graves believes an ambitious infrastructure plan proposed by President Donald Trump, which would rely heavily on public-private partnerships, will gain traction in the next Congress and include revenue for highway and river transportation projects.

Graves’ district borders sections of both the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, and he has been a proponent of building 1,200-foot lock chambers along the upper Mississippi and Illinois rivers that would effectively double their capacity to move agriculture and mineral products to national and international markets.

Unfortunately, Congress has been unwilling to commit funds for those vital upgrades since first approving the Water Resources Development Act in 2007.

Graves also believes expanding rural broadband internet service is “vitally important” to the future of businesses, schools and health care providers. He says $255 million in funding from the Federal Communications Commission to address that issue in Missouri is a promising start.

Democrat Henry Martin of Kansas City and Libertarian Dan Hogan of St. Charles County also are running in the 6th District.

Martin is an Army veteran and educator who says infrastructure improvements, better education and justice reform are issues he wants to address in Congress. Hogan, an Amtrak conductor who made an unsuccessful bid for the 3rd District seat in 2016, also served in the Army and believes crumbling infrastructure and the impact of potential trade wars are the two biggest issues facing Missourians.

Neither of the challengers has given voters a reason to oust an experienced and effective officeholder.

U.S. Rep. Sam Graves has served this region well, and we urge his re-election.

Read more. Graves tours MFA grain facility

NETTLETON, Missouri — North Missouri Congressman Sam Graves was given a close-up look Tuesday at one of the region’s newest and most impressive agricultural facilities.

Graves spent part of the morning on a tour of the MFA Rail Facility in Caldwell County, located 5 miles east of Hamilton, Missouri. The congressman had been aware of the grain-handling facility, but it marked the first time he has been able to step on the grounds since the business opened in the spring of 2017.

“Fantastic facility,” Graves said on his impressions of the tour. “In fact, I wanted to come see it ever since they started construction. … Beautiful.”

“It’s good for the entire area,” Graves said. “They draw grain from a lot of counties. This is a great opportunity.”

Despite the weather, a train was due in on today and is scheduled to take a load of grain from the harvest to Mexico. Soybeans are being shipped to St. Louis for an eventual destination of the Gulf of Mexico. The largest percentage of grain is bought by customers in Arizona.

More trucks and trains are anticipated to arrive as the season continues this month and on into November. All activities are going well, said manager David Jones.

“Beans have yet to get going,” he said.

Graves also observed how employees grade the grain that enters the facility and learned about its storage capacity. Officials told him that 1.3 million bushels of corn were being kept under a tarp due to the rainfall.

Customers are reporting corn yields in a range of 30 to 70 bushels per acre, with the rains arriving too late to make a difference in this year’s crop. The toxic aflatoxin, produced by fungi, was a major problem for corn. Caldwell County Presiding Commissioner Bud Motsinger, who accompanied Graves on the tour, said large amounts of this year’s corn had to be cut for silage due to drought-induced damage.

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Ray Scherer can be reached at Follow him on Twitter: @SJNPScherer.

WGEM TV: Graves meets with farmers in Northeast Missouri

Ewing, MO –

Tri-State farmers got a chance voicing their concerns to 6th District Missouri Congressman Sam Graves (R), who met with farmers in Ewing, Missouri Thursday.

Graves said he’s working on making sure farmers get better prices on corn and soybeans long term.

“We know he’s a farmer, i think he said one of seven production farmers in Washington in the house so,” said local farmer Doug Thomas, who came out to meet Graves today, “we just like to hear him talk about it.”

“It is the long game that we have to worry about, but as farmers you know we’re obviously worried about whatever happens in the short term,” said Graves, “we’ve got a crop coming up, we don’t know if it’s a bumper crop or not, if it’s a bumper crop it’s going to depress prices but the fact of the matter is commodities are very volatile.”

Graves said traders make money from the fluctuation, but new deals like the one recently announced with Mexico, aim to bring the overall prices up.

“In this case the tariffs are going to push it down, they’ll make money on the way down, it will go back up and come back down and come back up,” said Graves, “that’s what commodity prices do, it’s just better when they’re a lot higher particularly for farmers who are trying to make farm payments.”

Local farmers hope to see the congressman’s efforts in Washington continue on their behalf.

“I think in general we need to work on trade, we know there’s some short term pain we’re going to have to feel and we hope it’s for long term gain,” said Thomas, “I think he has the same feelings in mind being a farmer himself.”

Graves also talked about working on better infrastructure for Missouri, and cuts to the EPA that he says helps farmers. After the event, he visited with constituents at the Doyle Manufacturing plant in Palmyra.

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WGEM TV: Congressman hosts town hall meeting at Culver-Stockton College

CANTON, Mo. (WGEM) – U.S. Congressman Sam Graves made a campaign stop in northeast Missouri Tuesday.

He spoke with students and the public at Culver-Stockton College during a town hall meeting.  The republican is running for re-election in the race for the House of Representatives for Missouri District Six.  He touched on a number of issues and encouraged students to get out and vote in November.

“It’s vitally important that they do participate,” Graves said.  “If they don’t participate, then the system completely breaks down. For no other reason, and this is what I told students, no other reason than the legacy that President is going to leave behind and that is the Supreme Court Justices they will appoint.”
“Being able to have the public servants come here and tell you about the business that is going on in Washington right now,” C-SC junior Ben Hooker said.  “Keeping everyone who may not follow politics as closely as I do or someone else being able to stay up to date on the happenings. I think it’s a great opportunity for anyone.”

Graves faces democrat David Blackwell and Libertarian Russ Monchil in the November election.

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KTVO TV: Immigration, highway funding continue to be hot topics for Graves

U.S. Representative Sam Graves of Missouri (R), made a stop in the small town of Greentop Tuesday morning.

There, the Congressman hosted a town hall meeting to hear the concerns and interests of those living in northeast Missouri. Graves said he enjoys having face-to-face discussions with people about topics that impact the country as a whole.

One town hall discussion focused on illegal immigration. Graves said almost 13 million illegal immigrants are living in the country and utilizing welfare benefits.

He says it’s time for the federal government and the Obama Administration to address what he refers to as a ‘matter of national security’.

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Moberly Monitor-Index: Rep. Graves speaks in Salisbury

Congressman Sam Graves spoke to voters Tuesday at Salisbury High School’s showpiece fieldhouse on South Maple Street, as he faced several dozen of his constituents from a multi-county area, part of his August Listening Tour.

At Salisbury, Graves said he wanted to update his audience on the work of the Congress to halt President Obama’s attempts to grant amnesty to illegal immigrants, reduce Second Amendment rights for gun owners and impose federal regulations on farmers through the Environmental Protection Agency’s Waters of the USA program. The latter would allow the EPA to regulate ditches, flood plains, ponds, streams and farmlands — a move that Graves pointed out has been bridled by Congress. He also saluted the U.S. Supreme Court for rejecting the president’s attempt to grant amnesty via executive order.

The president, Graves said, has repeatedly demonstrated his “disdain for the Constitution.” He said he did not know who would win the presidential election, but suggested he and his colleagues in the Congress would welcome the chance to work with a new president in passing a conservative budget.

“President Obama cannot regulate what Congress has refused to legislate,” Graves said.

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