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.