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Audio Feature: WGXC Congressional Report

Oct 01, 2022 3:00 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. Current Democrat Rep. Paul Tonko, from the 20th District, votes with the positions of President Joe Biden 100 percent of the time, according to the fivethirtyeight.com website. Republican Elise Stefanik, currently representing the 21st District, votes with Biden's positions 19.3 percent of the time. Democrat Pat Ryan just began representing the 19th District, and has yet to be included in the rankings. Click here to listen to this report.

The Daily Freeman reports that new Congressperson Pat Ryan introduced his first bill in the House of Representatives after nine days in office. Ryan, a Democrat filling in the final weeks of Antonio Delgado's term in the 19th Congressional District, introduced the “Protecting Reproductive Freedom Act.” The bill would allow access to abortion medication through telehealth even in states that ban abortion, and would create a Congressional report on other ways to expand access to reproductive health care. “A woman’s right to choose is one of this country’s foundational freedoms, and there is no place for government interference in these private medical decisions, yet extremist state lawmakers are restricting access to FDA-approved abortion medication and even threatening to open Americans’ mail to stop the delivery of doctor-prescribed healthcare services,” Ryan said in a press release. “This legislation would ensure that women across the country can access this safe and effective medical treatment.” Over half of all abortion care in the U.S. comes through medication, with a two-dose regimen of mifepristone and misoprostol approved for up to 10 weeks of pregnancy. This year at least 20 states have proposed bills to restrict or ban access to those abortion pills, which were approved more than two decades ago by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and other new bills would force women to get those medications from a doctor in person. Ryan beat Republican Marc Molinaro in a special election to fill in the final weeks of Delgado's term, and many political observers said his support for abortion rights was a key part of that campaign. Now Ryan is running for the new 18th Congressional district against Republican Colin Schmitt in November, while Molinaro faces Democrat Josh Riley in the new 19th Congressional District. Schmitt did not respond to requests for comment. Read more about this story in the Daily Freeman.

With the Supreme Court overturning the Roe vs. Wade decision earlier this year, views on abortion have been center stage in every election in America since, and that continues this fall in the new New York 19th Congressional District contest between Republican Marc Molinaro and Democrat Josh Riley. Molinaro lost a special election for the old version of the district in August to Democrat Pat Ryan, and many political observers wrote that Democratic turnout was up in that race because of the abortion issue. Riley has been clear that he supports abortion rights, and his campaign website says, "Women’s healthcare decisions are women’s healthcare decisions, not the government’s." Molinaro's campaign website avoids the issue completely in the "policy" section. Molinaro has said he opposes most abortions after 17 weeks. “I don’t want government in the specific decision making that women will have to make, I don’t,” Molinaro said at a Sept. 1 town hall meeting with voters in Endicott, in Broome County. “But I also want to be respectful of the fact, at some point there ought to be some limitation, except in the case of life of the mother, rape and incest.” His 17-week limit is very close to the 15-week abortion ban that South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham recently proposed. Just after Molinaro lost to Ryan he appeared on the right-wing Newsmax network, which has reported conspiracy theories and lets guests incorrectly state that the 2020 presidential election was "stolen," and he was asked about the abortion issue. Click here to play or download short excerpt of Molinaro on Newsmax.

WSKG reports that just about a month before voting begins, the candidates for the new 19th Congressional District still have not agreed to debate. Democrat Josh Riley agreed to a debate with WSKG, a public television and radio station working with the League of Women Voters of Broome and Tioga Counties, but Republican Marc Molinaro did not. “I understood from yesterday that he had declined the WSKG debate which I had accepted. So, we’ll have to see what other invitations we have,” Riley said on Sept. 25. Molinaro says he has agreed to a debate hosted by Spectrum News and two candidate forums, not debates, one with the Ulster County Chamber of Commerce, and another with the Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce. “I’m guessing it’s just scheduling issues, but three debates seems like a reasonable number to have across a district this size,” Molinaro said Sept. 23, even though he has agreed to only one debate, and two candidate forums. Voting begins Oct. 29 and ends Nov. 8. Read more about this story at the WSKG website.

Patricia R. Doxsey reports in the Daily Freeman that Democrat Pat Ryan and Republican Colin Schmitt outlined their differences on the abortion issue at an Ulster County Regional Chamber of Commerce “meet the candidates” breakfast Sept. 27. The two are competing for the new 18th Congressional District seat in November. Ryan, the former Ulster County Executive was just elected to be the 19th Congressional District Congressperson for a few weeks, filling in after Antonio Delgado resigned to become lieutenant governor. Schmitt is a two-term Republican assemblyperson from Orange County. Ryan was dismayed about the Supreme Court overturning the Roe vs. Wade decision earlier this year. “I feel pretty strongly this goes squarely against who we are as a country, who we are as a nation,” Ryan said. Then Schmitt said he is pro-life, so in favor of banning abortion, and then falsely claimed that Ryan would permit taxpayer-funded abortion up to the moment of birth and would prohibit parental notification laws. Instead, Ryan said he would reinstate the framework that Roe v. Wade created and called Schmitt’s mischaracterization, “kind of embarrassing, frankly.” The full videos of Schmitt and Ryan speaking at the event are on the WGXC Newsroom. Read more about this story in the Daily Freeman.

Patricia R. Doxsey reports for the Daily Freeman that Republican Congressional candidate Marc Molinaro is now opposing the United States sending military aid to Ukraine to fight off the invasion from Russia. “I believe that as a country we have met our financial obligation to support Ukraine resistance,” Molinaro said. Russia invaded Ukraine in February without provocation, and is accused of many human rights violations. Since the invasion Finland and Sweden have moved to join the the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, as fears of Russia invading other countries has spread. The United States has sent Ukraine approximately $15.2 billion in military aid since President Joe Biden took office. “I think the president ought to marshall freedom-loving democratic societies around this world to more aggressively isolate, freeze and make abundantly clear to Vladimir Putin that he is a criminal, is a tyrant and America and democracies around the world do not accept his incursion, his invasion or his continued military efforts in Ukraine,” Molinaro said. The Republican candidate for the 19th Congressional District did not say how he would do that. Molinaro is running against Democrat Josh Riley for the new 19th Congressional District, which voting beginning Oct. 29 and ending Nov. 8. Read more about this story in the Daily Freeman.

Patricia R. Doxsey reports in the Daily Freeman that less than three weeks after being sworn in, Democrat Pat Ryan passed his first bill in the U.S. House of Representatives on Sept. 29. Ryan's bill would give access to VA home loans to those National Guard and reserve forces conducting active duty for training or in training pipelines for specialized areas. The “Expanding Home Loans for Guard and Reservists Act” passed 296-127, a rare bipartisan vote, and now heads to the U.S. Senate. The Veterans Health Care Benefits Improvement Act of 2020 left out National Guard service members and reservists conducting active duty for training or entering into a longer training pipeline, and this bill would close that loophole. “There’s some guardsmen and women who were and weren’t eligible even though they were serving in the same battalion, in the same unit, in the same place. It shouldn’t matter,” said Ryan, who was elected in a special election for New York's 19th Congressional District after Democrat Antonio Delgado resigned to become lieutenant governor. “This is really addressing that and righting that wrong.” Ryan was sworn in Sept. 13, and faces another election this fall, but he is running in the 18th Congressional District, after the lines were redrawn. “I feel tremendous pride I’m able to help the veterans on something so important,” Ryan said. “This is really important, especially given the intersection of rising home prices and veterans’ homelessness.” Read more about this story in the Daily Freeman.

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