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Audio Feature: WGXC Congressional Report

Jul 24, 2023 7:03 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.

Paul Kirby reports in the Daily Freeman that Republican Hudson Valley representatives voted July 14 for a controversial defense spending bill last week, while the Democrats voted against. Marc Molinaro and Elise Stefanik voted for the bill that would stop military personnel from being reimbursed for travel for out of state abortions. The bill, which Democrats Paul Tonko and Pat Ryan voted against, would also end diversity initiatives in the military. Ryan said, “Far-right extremists just highjacked the (National Defense Authorization Act) to rip away reproductive rights from female soldiers.... These are brave women risking their lives every day to defend our fundamental freedoms. I’ll be standing with my fellow patriots and voting NO on the bill. I was proud to support the NDAA as reported out of committee, which followed the 60+ year precedent of bipartisanship on this crucial legislation. The far-right is risking our national security for selfish, political gain.” Molinaro's statement after the vote ignored the controversial aspects of the bill, and focused on more popular topics. Molinaro said, “(The amendments) are significant wins for our national defense and the well-being of our servicemembers, military families, and veterans.... My measures expand mental health care for our military, support military families with disabilities, and ensure access to quality healthcare.” The U.S. Senate, led by Democrats, will vote on a very different bill, and the two chambers will have to work out the differences. In the House, the vote was 219-to-210, with four Democrats and four Republicans switching sides in a mostly partisan vote. Read more about this story in the Daily Freeman.

Roger Hannigan Gilson reports in the Times Union that counting from April, when Democrat Josh Riley announced his second campaign for the 19th Congressional District, he has outraised Republican incumbent Rep. Marc Molinaro, according to second-quarter Federal Elections Commission figures released on July 17. From April 1 to the end of June Riley outraised Molinaro $787,933 to $606,827, or by about 30 percent. Molinaro has been raising money longer, so he has taken $1,278,612 in his reelection campaign. Riley is refusing donations from corporate political action committees, and nearly 95 percent of Riley’s donations came from individual donors. Molinaro only raised 30 percent of his money from individual donors. Molinaro raised $217,000 from more than 160 political action committees, including the Air Line Pilots Association PAC; Avangrid PAC, a single-corporation clean energy fundraising committee, and the American Crystal Sugar Company PAC, which represents the sugar cane and sugar beet industry. If they win their primary elections, Molinaro versus Riley would be a rematch of the 2022 election in the 19th Congressional District, where Molinaro defeated Riley by a two-point margin, 142,354 votes to 136,071. Read more about this story in the Times Union.

Alex Gault reports for the Adirondack Daily Enterprise that Rep. Elise Stefanik took in nearly $1.2 million in contributions in 2023's second fiscal quarter, far outpacing any rivals. But half of that, $612,658, was from transfers from her other campaign committees and the GOP Battleground fund. Jill A. Lochner is running against Stefanik in a Republican primary election for the 21st Congressional District, and only reported $2,702 in donations last quarter. Steven W. Holden Sr., a Democrat who ran against Congressperson Claudia Tenney in 2022 and recently declared his candidacy for the 21st Congressional District, failed to file any financial disclosures for this election cycle. AT&T, Amazon, Raytheon, the Dairy Farmers of America, a number of groups representing doctors and pharmacists, American Express, and Wells Fargo all donated to Stefanik's campaign. Holden, the Democrat who promises he will take on Stefanik, filed paperwork to run, but his listed campaign website connects to a woodworking blog rather than a campaign page. Stefanik's 21st Congressional District now includes Rensselaer County. Read more about this story in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise.

Paul Kirby reports for the Daily Freeman that Rep. Marc Molinaro said July 18 that he will vote to censure fellow Republican George Santos. Molinaro previously voted against kicking Santos out of Congress. Democrats are expected to introduce a censure resolution into the House soon. Molinaro said, “George Santos should not be a Member of Congress.... I called for his resignation months ago and I’d censure him now.” Republicans have just a four-seat majority in the House of Representatives and don't seem likely to remove one of their members, even with a record of lying like Santos. The Long Island Congressperson has been charged with embezzling money from his campaign, falsely receiving unemployment funds, and lying to Congress about his finances. Molinaro represents the 19th Congressional District. Read more about this story in the Daily Freeman.

Roger Hannigan Gilson reports for the Times Union that after a group filed a Federal Election Commission complaint alleging that Rep. Marc Molinaro illegally transferred $2,000 from his former campaign for Dutchess County executive into his current reelection campaign, Molinaro on June 8 returned the money to his dormant Dutchess County campaign account. In April the group End Citizens United filed the complaint, alleging the money transfer violated federal campaign finance law. End Citizens United spokesperson Bawadden Sayed asserts that the return of $2,000 to the Dutchess County campaign committee amounted to Molinaro “shamefully admit(ting) wrongdoing in his own quarterly report.” The Molinaro campaign did not explain the money transfers, with Molinaro campaign advisor Dave Catalfamo saying, “The Molinaro campaign has always and will continue to comply with all state and federal laws.” Read more about this story in the Times Union.

Adam Reiss and Rebecca Shabad reports for NBC News that after former President Donald Trump announced earlier this week that he got a letter saying he will likely be indicted for his role in the Jan. 6 insurrection he called Rep. Elise Stefanik. Trump called House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and Stefanik, who represents the 21st Congressional District in New York including Rensselaer County, and asked them to rally support from other House members. Stefanik has endorsed Trump in his re-election campaign. After the call from Trump, Stefanik said, "We have yet again another example of Joe Biden’s weaponized Department of Justice targeting his top political opponent, Donald Trump." Read more about this story at the NBC News website.

Mid-Hudson News reports that after a Wall Street Journal story said hundreds of communities across the country including Wappingers Falls in Dutchess County have lead telecommunications cables leaching into the ground Congressperson Pat Ryan and Governor Kathy Hochul are upset. Both are demanding telecommunications companies remove lead cables from around the country. Ryan, who represents the 18th Congressional District, has written to the CEOs of Verizon, AT&T, and US Telecom requesting they remove the toxic lead cables. In Wappingers Falls one lead cable runs along the perimeter of a children’s playground and basketball court. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends that children avoid soil containing more than 400 parts of lead per million, but samples taken on the local playground tested at 850 parts per million. Hochul has ordered an investigation into the issue, and closed the Wappingers Falls park while the soil there goes under further testing. Read more about this story at Mid-Hudson News.

Andrea Macko reports for Porcupine Soup that Republicans Marc Molinaro and Elise Stefanik and Democrat Pat Ryan voted for a bill that prohibits schools from being used as shelters for migrants, while Democrat Paul Tonko voted against. Molinaro said, "Schools are places for academics, athletics, community services, and places where children like mine receive vital therapy. They are not migrant shelters." The bill does not ban using schools as shelters for other reasons, such as weather emergencies. It also has very little chance of ever becoming law by passing the Senate and getting the president's signature. Ryan was among only four Democrats voting for the proposal, and Molinaro sponsored the bill. The White House released a statement saying the bill, "would supersede local control, interfering with the ability of States and municipalities to effectively govern and make decisions about their school buildings.” Republicans usually favor local control and less federal regulation, but not this time. Read more about this story at Porcupine Soup.

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