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Audio Feature: WGXC Congressional Report

Oct 08, 2023 7:03 am

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.

It does not happen much, but occasionally both New York's Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, and the four Hudson Valley representatives all vote the same way. It happened on Sept. 30 when Republicans Elise Stefanik and Marc Molinaro, and Democrats Pat Ryan and Paul Tonko, all voted to keep the United States government operating temporarily while a few ultra-comservative Republicans holding up a deal decide what, exactly, they want. Only nine very conservative Republicans in the Senate voted against the temporary budget deal, while 90 Republicans and one Democrat in the House voted against the stop-gap measure called, the "Continuing Appropriations Act, 2024 and Other Extensions Act." Ryan said of the vote, “For weeks, far-right MAGA extremists have threatened a government shutdown unless we accept cuts to critical programs that Hudson Valley veterans, seniors, and children rely on. Today, I voted alongside a bipartisan coalition to prevent those cuts and pass a bill that keeps the government open.” Molinaro said, “I’m a yes on the short-term government funding extension. We can do both. We can keep our government running while finishing our work to rein in inflation & secure the border.” The next threat of a government shut down is not\w pushed back after elections in November.

Joshua Solomon reports in the Times Union that the state Court of Appeals will hear arguments on whether New York's congressional boundaries should be redrawn on Nov. 15. Redistricting is supposed to take place every ten years, so it should have been complete by the 2022 elections. But lawsuits in New York continue to drag the process out. About 17 months ago the Court of Appeals struck the Democrat-drawn political boundaries for the state Senate and Congress that had been established by the Democrat-controlled Senate, ordering a new map. Repeatedly courts have ruled that the map boundaries were intentionally gerrymandered for political gain. That led a judge to pick an outside expert to draw the maps, which were used in the 2022 elections. Republicans did well in those votes, winning House seats in the Hudson Valley that helped flipped control of the House. So Democrats sued, and, again, candidates and citizens can't be sure of the end result. Read more about this story in the Times Union.

Paul Kirby reports in the Daily Freeman that Republican Rep Marc Molinaro said on Oct. 2 he is standing by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. Rep. Matt Gaetz moved to remove McCarthy from his post on Oct. 2, after McCarthy cut a deal with Democrats to keep the government open until at least November. Molinaro took to social media to brag about his support of McCarthy, writing, “With Speaker McCarthy, House Republicans have passed bills to unleash American energy, secure the southern border, protect parents rights (and) combat rising crime." Gaetz filed a “motion to vacate the chair,” and only needs five Republicans to break with McCarthy to oust the speaker. Rep. Pat Ryan, a Democrat who represents the 18th Congressional District said, “This is yet another example of the chaos and dysfunction when MAGA Republicans are in charge.... They’re fighting each other rather than serving the American people, putting at risk Social Security, pay for our troops, food assistance for hungry kids, and more. Now, more than ever, we need patriots in Congress, not political hacks.” Read more about this story in the Daily Freeman.

Pablo Manríquez writes in The New Republic that Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik could become the Speaker of the House of Representatives. On Oct. 3, Rep. Matt Gaetz filed a “motion to vacate the chair,” against House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. More than the five necessary Republicans have said they will vote to vacate the chair, and Republicans in the majority will need to choose a new leader. In January, it took Republicans multiple votes to approve McCarthy. In The New Republic Manríquez writes that Minnesota’s Tom Emmer, the majority whip, and conference chair Stefanik are the top contenders to replace McCarthy. But Manríquez writes, "Emmer is widely regarded as a joke within the House GOP conference for his inability to, well, whip votes. Just last month, Emmer twice failed to get the votes to pass a rule to fund the Pentagon, the congressional equivalent to a shooting guard flinging an open layup into the bleachers." That leaves Stefanik, who represents Rensselaer County and the rest of the 21st Congressional District. Read more about this story in The New Republic.

Paul Kirby reports in the Daily Freeman that Republican Rep. Marc Molinaro voted Oct. 3 to keep Kevin McCarthy as House Speaker, a vote he lost. A small group of ultra-conservative Republicans were enough opposition to McCarthy to vacate the chair. It was the first time in America's history that a House Speaker was removed in a no-confidence vote. Molinaro, who represents the 19th Congressional District, said, “I voted to retain Speaker McCarthy because he allows us to keep governing, address inflation, secure the border, and fight for the issues facing families, farmers, and small businesses.” Democrat Pat Ryan voted with the rest of the Democrats against McCarthy. Ryan said, “It’s about delivering results and (McCarthy) has failed Hudson Valley families at every turn.... He’s leading the charge to enact a national abortion ban, voted to kick 18K #NY18 residents off their healthcare and to cut heating assistance for low-income families by 74 percent.” Rep. Elise Stefanik, who represents Rensselaer County and the rest of the 21st Congressional District, took to the House floor moments before the vote to defend McCarthy. Then Rep. Matt Gaetz, who brought the motion to remove McCarthy, spoke. CLICK HER TO PLAY BRIEF CLIP OF STEFANIK AND GAETZ. The Republican's kerfuffle came because Gaetz was upset McCarthy cut a deal with Democrats to keep the government operating. Removing McCarthy as House Speaker effectively stops the government from operating, as Republicans cannot get any business done until they pick a new leader. Read more about this story in the Daily Freeman.

New York State of Politics reports that Congress may have extended federal spending into November to keep the government running, but they let the current Farm Bill expire without voting for a new bill. Christopher Wolf, an agricultural economics professor at Cornell University, said some program are reauthorized automatically, while other parts of the bill are not. He said, “Some of them are permanent and don’t require any extension, like crop insurance. Some of them need reauthorization, and some of them are authorized, but need funding.” A government-funded program to offset the cost of milk, for instance, will end soon and revert back to a 1949 law that would set prices relative to the 1910s, Wolf said. That would send milk prices 2.5 percent higher. “If it were to happen, that would cost billions and billions, but that’s not going to happen,” Wolf said. “It’s really not that unusual to go past the fiscal year expiration date.” New York Farm Bureau spokesperson Steve Ammerman said, “It is too soon to predict what will happen, and we are hopeful to avoid a repeat of years past that took us towards the so-called ’dairy cliff’ where critical risk management programs would be left unfunded and agricultural policy would revert to those in the 1940s.” Read more about this story at New York State of Politics.

Kevin Frey reports for New York State of Politics that Rep. Marc Molinaro reflected the confusion and dual tracks of his now leaderless fellow House Republicans when talking about who he wants as their new leader. A handful of ultra-conservative Republicans ousted House Speaker Kevin McCarthy earlier this week, virtually shutting down the government. When actions resume next week, they will have to choose a leader to get anything done. Molinaro said, “We need in our conference to accept that we’re going to have to have a speaker who will mold consensus and accept a degree of compromise on our behalf." So Molinaro wants someone who can compromise with Democrats but who also puts, “forward effectively an aggressive agenda to meet the needs of the American people.” Molinaro also had good things to say about the outgoing speaker, saying, “No one member of Congress had worked harder to help me certainly get here or to win the majority — and then ultimately work towards growing it — than Kevin McCarthy.” House Republicans took 15 votes to elect McCarthy in January, and next week plan to choose a new leader so the federal government can function again. Read more about this story at New York State of Politics.

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