Plaskett chairs first subcommittee hearing

Seniority has its perks for Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett.

The third term Democrat is in her first committee chair position during her time in Congress. Plaskett chairs the House Agriculture’s Committee’s Biotech, Horticulture and Research Subcommittee, which had their first meeting Wednesday morning.

The subcommittee is focusing on what could be a big move by the Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. That plan calls for relocating top USDA agencies for agriculture research outside of the Washington, D.C. area to other areas of the country, including North Carolina and several Midwestern states.

Those agencies include the Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food Agriculture.

Perdue has previously said the agencies would work best outside of the beltway. Plaskett and even some farmers and industry experts who testified before the committee argue those agencies should stay here in the dc area.

“And also the impact that it’s going to have on staffing, moving people and their families throughout the United States,” Plaskett said ahead of the hearing. “The Secretary says he’s concerned about quality of life, but these are individuals who have put their lives here.”

USVI News also asked Plaskett about the disaster relief funding the house passed on Monday after months of delays in Congress. That includes $331 million in overall aid for Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. President Trump has committed to signing the bill after saying in recent months he felt Puerto Rico was getting too much money after Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017. As expected, Plaskett is relieved the process is finally over.

“There were provisions in there for the Virgin Islands, $27 million,” she explained detailing the $331 million. “There were also some process issues that were put in place that we’re also grateful for.”

The money is part of the much larger $19 billion disaster bill that also covers natural disasters in California, Hawaii, and the Midwest.