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Audio Feature: WGXC Congressional Report

Apr 17, 2023 9:03 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.

Paul Kirby reports in the Daily Freeman that after a Texas judge ruled April 7 that it knows better than the Food and Drug Administration and effectively removed approval of the most commonly used method of abortion in the U.S, Ulster County-based Rep. Pat Ryan re-introduced a bill on April 10 which would reaffirm that the FDA, “has clear and pre-emptive authority to regulate abortion medication” and “not extremist courts.” But unless he can convince several Republicans to vote in committee and on the floor for his bill, it won't go anywhere in the GOP-controlled House of Representatives. Ryan originally introduced the bill last fall, when the Democrats controlled the House and he represented the 19th Congressional District. Now Ryan represents the 18th Congressional District, and the Republican majority leaves him virtually powerless to pass legislation to make mifepristone accessible to women in New York and elsewhere. “Mifepristone is a safe and effective medication that has been prescribed by doctors … over two decades since the FDA approved it. However, the Texas decision has nothing to do with science or medicine and everything to do with radical groups whose only goal is a national abortion ban,” Ryan said. “My priority is protecting abortion access for women in New York and across the country. This legislation will reaffirm the FDA’s approval authority and protect doctors who use telemedicine to prescribe medication abortion.” Read more about this story in the Daily Freeman.

Roger Hannigan Gilson reports in the Times Union that Democrat Josh Riley announced April 11 that he will try again in 2024 to beat Republican Marc Molinaro to represent the 19th District in Congress. Riley lost by a 1.5 percentage to Molinaro in the 2022 election, and was one of the races that flipped a seat giving the Republicans control of the House of Representatives. Riley is quickly gathering support to ward off other challengers, with the chairs of seven of the 11 county Democratic committees in the 19th District signing a letter of support for his campaign. The 19th Congressional District was previously represented by Democrat Antonio Delgado, who abandoned the job to become lieutenant governor. Democrat Pat Ryan then won a special election to hold the seat for a few weeks, but then ran for the 18th Congressional District after redistricting changed the maps. Molinaro has voted with conservative Republicans in his first months in office. Riley said the difference in rerunning the same election in 2024 is that Molinaro “now has a record to run on.” Daniel Buttermann, of Oneonta, also filed to run in the 19th District in February as a Democrat. Molinaro's campaign released a statement in response to Riley's announcement saying, “There’s nearly 600 days until the 2024 election. I’m focused on delivering bipartisan results for upstate New York. I will run on this record if my opponent is Josh Riley, Daniel Buttermann, or someone who has yet to announce.” Riley lives in the 19th Congressional District near Binghamton, while Molinaro lives outside the district, in Dutchess County. Read more about this story in the Times Union.

Joshua Solomon reports in the Times Union that Congressperson Elise Stefanik is starting a “Battleground Fund” to help elect more congressional Republicans in New York. This seems like the answer to the announcement in February of a Democrat-controlled Super PAC pledging to raise and spend $45 million to get more Democrats elected to Congress from New York. Republicans currently control the House with a five-member majority after flipping four seats in New York last year that had been held by Democrats. Stefanik is attempting to fund get-out-the-vote efforts with her "Battleground Fund." First term Rep. Marc Molinaro is expected to be among the targets of the Democratic opposition campaign. Molinaro said, “Elise is an incredible fundraiser and knows what it takes to win,.... We are proud to have her as the leader of our delegation.” Read the full story in the Times Union.

Patricia R. Doxsey reports in the Daily Freeman that State Senator Michelle Hinchey isn't ruling out running for the 19th Congressional District seat now held held by Republican Marc Molinaro. Hinchey is a Saugerties-based Democrat whose late father Maurice Hinchey represented much of what is now the 19th District during his 20-year congressional career. In an email on April 11, Hinchey said, “The outpouring of support and encouragement to run for the 19th Congressional District has been incredible.... As a young woman watching what’s happening in our country today, I am currently considering the best way that I can keep helping people and improving our region.” Hinchey was first elected to the state Senate in 2020. So far, Josh Riley, the Democrat who lost to Molinaro in 2022, and Daniel Buttermann, of Oneonta, have announced they are running in the 19th Congressional District in 2024. Molinaro's position on abortion was an issue in the last election, and after a recent court ruling from Texas, may again be in the 2024 campaign, so Hinchey could have an advantage over the other Democrats who have announced so far. Read more about this story in the Daily Freeman.

Nick Reisman reports at Spectrum News that Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik announced on April 11 that she will run again in 2024 for the 21st Congressional District and has raised $3 million over the first three months of the year for her camapaign. Stefanik is the the House conference chair, the third Republican in line running the U.S. House of Representatives. Because of redistricting, the 21st Congressional District now includes Rensselaer County. The Malone Telegram reported on April 10 that Matt Castelli, the Democratic challenger to Stefanik last year, will not run again in 2024. In her statement announcing the 2024 run, Stefanik firmly aligned herself with the recently indicted former president. Stefanik said, "We will work our hardest to defeat the Democrats across New York and the country, to protect and expand our House Majority and elect President Trump in 2024.” Read more about this story at Spectrum News.

Paul Kirby reports for the Daily Freeman that a few months ago, Rep. Pat Ryan was on the floor of Congress asking for the CEO of Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp. to resign. Now, after Central Hudson did change CEOs, the Democrat lawmaker and the embattled local power provider are teaming up for in-person, one-on-one customer service sessions to deal with individual billing problems. Ryan has been a persistent critic of Central Hudson's past estimated billing practices, as many local customers were getting giant bills, and threats of turn-offs. Ryan, who represents the 18th Congressional District, said on April 11 that, “At this point, the most productive way to fix these issues is to get people to sit down and look each other in the eye.... We have an agreement for Central Hudson to work with my office to hold a series of (meetings) to give constituents so much as a chance to sit one-on-one with Central Hudson and figure out any issues with their bill." The two sides do not yet have specific details about the meetings. Central Hudson has eliminated the estimated billing, added nearly 50 new positions in the customer billing and consumer outreach departments, and promises hiring another 36 people for its customer contact center. Read more about this story in the Daily Freeman.

Patricia R. Doxsey reports in the Daily Freeman Republican Rep. Marc Molinaro said on April 12 that he would oppose any attempts by Congress to link passage of a debt ceiling increase or the federal budget to changes to Social Security or Medicare. He promised to vote against reducing benefits for those receiving them or now paying into the federal systems. Molinaro said, “Under no circumstance, under no circumstance, will I vote for a debt ceiling limit or budget that diminishes Medicare or Social Security for senior citizens and those in the system today. Under no circumstance.... There is a way, by expanding economic growth, getting people back into the workforce … there is a way to both not only secure Medicare and Social Security services but expand its benefit to those in future generations and that is critically important.” Molinaro lives in Dutchess County out of the 19th Congressional District, which he represents in Congress. He was speaking April 12 at the Diamond Mills Hotel for the Ulster County Regional Chamber of Commerce monthly breakfast meeting. Molinaro said he has been working with Democrat Pat Ryan, who represents Molinaro's Dutchess County and the rest of the 18th Congressional District. Molinaro and Ryan worked together on a bill re-establishing the Small Business Pipeline Act, and to secure funding for the redevelopment of the former TechCity site in the town of Ulster. Molinaro said, “We as a nation are in a very dangerous place, and that place is where we lack the tolerance to accept different views and opinions and we lack the willingness to come together to confront those things that challenge us.... This feeling that we can only, should only, talk to those with whom we agree isn’t healthy." Read more about this story in the Daily Freeman.

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