January 30, 2018

New Duckworth-Durbin CAIRO Act Would Help Revitalize Rural Illinois Community Forgotten by Trump

Despite President’s repeated campaign promises to help rural America, Trump has failed to respond to Senators’ request to create comprehensive task for to support and redevelop Cairo, Illinois


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] - U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) today introduced the Creating American Investment, Redevelopment, and Opportunity (CAIRO) Task Force Act to form a Cabinet-level task force to address the housing, health and economic crises in Cairo, Illinois. In introducing this legislation for the new task force focused on Cairo, the Senators seek to codify a September request to President Trump that he has failed to act upon. In that letter, they highlight the Federal government’s role in exacerbating the problems in Cairo and call on his Administration to fulfill a Trump-campaign promise to help rural communities across America like Cairo.

“The only way we can move Cairo and Alexander County forward is through a coordinated effort between federal, state and local officials focused on finding every possible way to help,” Duckworth said. “While I’m disappointed that Donald Trump hasn’t found time to fulfill his promises to communities like Cairo, Senator Durbin and I aren’t waiting for him to act. The hardworking people of Cairo deserve better than broken promises, which is why we’re moving forward with a plan to create a comprehensive interagency task force that is focused on finding solutions to the problems the Federal government helped create in Southern Illinois.”

“Cairo is ‘Exhibit A’ for mismanagement in Washington and locally. It is critical that the federal government does everything it can to fix this mess and promote the revitalization of this community,” said Durbin. “Since President Trump has yet to respond to our request from September pressing him to convene a new task force to work on a strategy to address the housing, health, and economic crises facing the community in Cairo, Senator Duckworth and I are introducing the CAIRO Act in order to better coordinate federal and state efforts to address the public housing crisis in Cairo and increase local economic vitality.”

The CAIRO Act requires that the task force submit a report to Congress within six months of its establishment and each year after that outlines its progress. Full text of the bill is available here. This evening, Duckworth will also host Cairo Junior/Senior High School Principal Lisa Childs Thomas as her guest for the 2018 State of the Union Address from the President to highlight Trump’s broken promises to rural America. A native of Cairo, Illinois, Lisa grew up in Alexander County Housing Authority’s McBride public housing complex, which the Trump Administration has chosen to shutter without any clear plan to rehouse hundreds of Illinoisans who will be displaced. She then went on to earn undergraduate and graduate degrees from Southern Illinois University and has now returned home to help educate young people in her community.

Since being sworn into the Senate in 2017, Duckworth has worked alongside Durbin to address the challenges faced by residents of the Elmwood and McBride housing developments, hold those responsible for the crisis accountable and improve the Cairo economy. Last year, Duckworth and Durbin visited Cairo to meet with local officials, tour the city and hear directly from residents. Senators Duckworth and Durbin then met with HUD Secretary Carson in Washington, where they secured several commitments from the secretary on behalf of the residents. These commitments included Secretary Carson’s trip to Cairo, where Duckworth joined him and reiterated the tenants’ desire to stay there. The details are outlined in a letter that is available here.

Duckworth also introduced the HOME Act today, which could help private organizations—as well as state and local governments—invest in communities like Cairo. More information about Duckworth’s HOME Act will be released shortly.