Capital Region

Local Congressional delegation claims wins in final funding bills

Paul Tonko and Elise Stefanik

Paul Tonko and Elise Stefanik

CAPITAL REGION — All three members of the Capital Region congressional delegation claimed their own successes in getting measures into the economic stimulus and year-end funding packages that were rushed through Congress late Monday night, and now await presidential signature.

U.S. Rep. Paul D. Tonko, D-Amsterdam, said several environmental and energy measures he has championed were included in the year-end funding bill. However, late Tuesday Trump threatened not to sign the bill after he called it wasteful and said Americans should receive $2,000 checks instead of the $600 agreed to by Congress.

Representatives Antonio Delgado, D-Rhinebeck, and Elise Stefanik, R-Saratoga, said measures that addressed specific concerns of their constituents were also included in the bills — the long-delayed and heavily negotiated $900 economic stimulus bill, and the $2.4 billion bill to continue funding of the federal government through Sept. 30.

Tonko, chair of the House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Environment & Climate Change, cheered the passage of five clean energy and climate action bills he authored, including legislation to increase federal investment in weathering buildings, clean energy research and development, climate mitigation, wind power development, and advanced battery recycling.

“With smart federal investments in clean energy and climate innovation, we can spark America’s economic recovery, create good jobs, strengthen our nation’s infrastructure and safeguard our nation’s place as a world leader in energy technology,” said Tonko, who represents the 20th Congressional District.

The package also includes the Improving HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act, which Tonko also sponsored.

The bill directs the Department of Health and Human Services to notify healthcare providers about care planning benefits for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients available through Medicare, and to identify any barriers individuals may face in accessing care planning, Tonko said.

“Receiving an Alzheimer’s diagnosis is one of the scariest moments a family can face, one that is all too familiar for millions of people across the nation,” he said. “We can make a real difference in that moment by ensuring doctors and caregivers are ready to develop a plan with them that helps maintain lasting quality of life for their loved one and provides invaluable support to loved ones after a diagnosis.”

Delgado, whose 19th Congressional District includes hundreds of dairy and other farms from the Hudson Valley to Montgomery County, highlighted the support in the stimulus bill for farmers hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, including direct payments to farmers.

“After months of partisan gridlock, I joined colleagues on both sides of the aisle in voting to pass long overdue coronavirus relief and federal funding that provides urgently needed relief to individuals and families across America as well as critical support to our small business owners and family farmers,” Delgado said in a statement. “This legislation is the first of many steps required to meet the needs of our localities throughout this public health emergency.”

Stefanik, whose North County 21st Congressional District is also heavy on agriculture, noted the bill’s support for her district’s farmers, including $635 million for agricultural inspectors for Customs and Border Protection. Canada is a prime trading partner for northern New York farmers.

She also noted provisions in the legislation covering rural economic development, acid rain monitoring and habitat restoration, and support for veterans and the military. Her district includes Fort Drum in Watertown and is home to thousands of veterans.

“Communities across my district will benefit from the enhanced investments in regional economic development, expanding broadband connectivity, and putting rural students on the pathway to lifelong success,” Stefanik said. “In addition, I was able to secure critical resources to maintain and improve Fort Drum’s military readiness, provide our troops with a much needed pay raise, expand health care access for North Country seniors and veterans, and protect our region’s environmental priorities.”

All three members of Congress noted that the legislation includes provisions to fund and coordinate implementation of rural broadband — a long-time goal of nearly everyone in Congress who represents rural areas.

All three voted in favor of the funding bills.



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