A new Senate caucus has been formed to advance Mississippi River issues.

U.S. Sens. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and Roy Blunt, R-Mo., announced formation of the caucus Thursday, which will address flood fighting and commercial issues, as well as provide general assistance to river communities.

“We learned a vital lesson this past fall when a potential disruption in navigation along the Mississippi threatened everything from increasing the cost to move goods to potential job losses,” Harkin said. “The river and its communities play an important role in commerce and the local economy.”

“This bipartisan caucus will provide a platform to bring together those states along the Mississippi River so that we can encourage navigation, promote commerce and prevent destructive floods,” Blunt said.

Harkin’s office said the group was just formed and members are now being sought.

The caucus is being formed as river interests push for new investment in locks and dams. Earlier this week, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad led a two-hour conference on investment in river infrastructure.

Participants there said they hoped the new caucus could aid their efforts.


Mississippi River Caucus launched in Senate

The Associated Press at 1:49 p.m.

ST. LOUIS — A bipartisan Mississippi River Caucus is being launched in the U.S. Senate in an effort to encourage commerce and address issues such as flood mitigation and navigation concerns.

Republican Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri and Democrat Tom Harkin of Iowa announced plans for the caucus on Thursday. It will also seek to help communities along the nation's longest waterway.

Blunt says the river is critically important to the economy. He says the caucus will bring together states along the Mississippi River to encourage navigation, promote commerce and prevent destructive floods.

Harkin says a vital lesson was learned from the low-water concerns that began last fall. Barge traffic has been restricted in the middle Mississippi River, but so far, the river has remained open.