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Audio Feature: WGXC Congressional Report

Jun 04, 2023 6:03 pm

Here is this week's WGXC Congressional Report, tracking the votes, statements, positions, and campaigns of the representatives and candidates for the 18th, 19th, 20th, and 21st Congressional seats in New York. Democrat Pat Ryan is representing the 18th Congressional District, Republican Marc Molinaro represents the 19th Congressional District, Democrat Rep. Paul Tonko represents the 20th District, and Republican Elise Stefanik represents the 21st District. Click here to listen to this report.

WNYT reports that New York's Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand want a federal disaster declaration from the Department of Agriculture after a late frost last week hurt local vineyards, farms, and orchards. Apple and grape crops were hit hard by a late-season frost last week. One farming expert told the newspaper that 30-35 percent of the region’s apple crop was lost in the frost. Michael Migliore, president of the Hudson Valley Wine and Grape Association, said of local growers, “The last time they saw a frost this late that caused this much damage was 60 years ago.” Migliore's Ulster County vineyard lost between 50-60 percent of its grapes, while his Columbia County vineyard only lost about five percent of its grapes because its location on the east bank of the Hudson River was warmer. His Greene County vineyard was “100 percent wiped out.” If the U.S. Department of Agriculture declares a federal disaster, farmers would be eligible to receive funds for their losses. Migliore said, “Is it going to make up for what happened? No. Will it possibly give you a lifeline to keep you afloat and in business? Maybe.” Read the full story in WNYT.

Nick Reisman reports for New York State of Politics that there are battle lines drawn in New York politics on the migrant relocation issue. While members of both parties have made statements against governors of southern states or the mayor of New York City busing migrants around the country, that's where the agreement ends. Democrats have largely backed Gov. Kathy Hochul's push to allow migrants seeking asylum in the U.S. the opportunity to work on a more expedited basis. Republicans, generally, don't want migrants housed in upstate New York. Democratic state Assemblyperson Pat Fahy is among the Democrats calling for President Joe Biden to change rules stopping new migrants from working right away. Fahy said, "Having someone wait 180 days, you’re almost inviting problems and I think that’s fueling some of the resistance.... I’ve been dismayed to see some of the comments. We’re New York. We have a history of being a welcoming state." Rep. Marc Molinaro is not as welcoming, introducing what he calls the Schools Not Shelters Act on May 26, a bill that would block Governor Kathy Hochul from using schools to shelter migrants. Hochul is discussing the possibility of housing migrants in SUNY college dorms in Upstate New York this summer. Molinaro said, "Upstate New York taxpayers pay thousands of dollars to support our public education system. SUNY college students pay thousands of dollars for room and board. Our schools are not shelters.” During the COVID-19 pandemic, many public buildings were used in different ways to respond to the health crisis. Republican Senate Minority Leader Robert Ortt blamed Washington politicians who have not updated migration policy in decades. Ortt said, "I don’t think anyone can argue that it’s the failure of the border policy that has partly led – partly – to this crisis to begin with." Read more about this story at New York State of Politics.

Mid-Hudson News reports that Democrat Pat Ryan is leaning toward voting for the bill to raise the nation’s debt limit hashed out by President Joe Biden and Republican House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Usually, bills to raise the debt limit and avoid default pass without note in Congress. But this year, McCarthy held the debt limit hostage, demanding spending cuts for passage. Ryan, who represents the 18th Congressional District, is leaning toward supporting it. Ryan said, “I read the whole bill; it’s 99 pages, so I am reviewing it now. We’ve both got to divert default, but also make sure we support our national security, our veterans and we don’t hurt vulnerable people – kids and seniors in particular." Another local Congressional representative, Republican Elise Stefanik, will definitely vote for the bill. She said, “This is a historic Republican victory.... It will cut spending year over year.”

Paul Kirby reports in the Daily Freeman that Republican Rep. Marc Molinaro said on May 30 that he will vote for a debt ceiling bill negotiated by President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. Molinaro said in a statement, “These negotiations resulted in a bipartisan agreement on the Fiscal Responsibility Act. I support the agreement..... The agreement raises the debt ceiling until January 2025 and makes historic cuts to the federal spending that is driving inflation.... It also makes bipartisan reforms to SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistant Program) and TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families), strengthens Social Security, protects Medicare and veterans benefits, and grows the economy.”’ The "reforms" Molinaro mentioned are adding more work requirements to receive food stamps and other emergency benefits. Molinaro lives in the 18th Congressional District, but represents the 19th Congressional District. Pat Ryan, a Democrat who represents the 18th Congressional District, says he is leaning toward supporting the bill, saying, “We both have to avoid catastrophic default and make sure we support our national security, our veterans, and our most vulnerable – kids and seniors in particular.... I’m encouraged by the bill, but still need to see the final text after the amendment process is complete.” Democrat Paul Tonko, who represents Albany County and the 20th Congressional District, has not yet said how he will vote on the bill. Republican Elise Stefanik, a Republican representing Rensselaer County and the 21st Congressional District, crowed about the bill on C-Span, saying, CLICK TO DOWNLOAD OR PLAY STEFANIK EXCERPT HERE. Read more about this story in the Daily Freeman.

It does not happen often, but all four Hudson Valley Congressional representatives voted the same way on May 31, all voting for a bill to increase the United States' debt limit. Republicans Marc Molinaro and Elise Stefanik, and Democrats Pat Ryan and Paul Tonko, all voted for the bill. In past years, increasing the country's debt limit was routine, approved by both parties no matter who was in the majority. This year, though, Republicans have held the bill hostage, demanding spending cuts. President Joe Biden negotiated a settlement with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy for this bill, which now heads to the Senate for approval.

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