President Donald Trump will travel to Fort Drum outside of Watertown on Monday to sign a sweeping, $716 billion defense bill that sets policy priorities for the Pentagon and is named after one of the president’s most pointed Republican critics.
Fort Drum is located in the sprawling 21st Congressional District, represented by Elise Stefanik, R-Willsboro, who in March invited Trump to visit the area. Stafanik also represents parts of the Capital District and is running for re-election this year.
Trump will sign the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act, named after the Arizona senator and war hero who has been absent from the Senate this year as he undergoes treatment for brain cancer.
“I am proud of the partnership with this administration to begin rebuilding our military and the president’s visit is an important opportunity to highlight this achievement and to thank our men and women in uniform for their service,” Stefanik said in a statement announcing Trump’s visit. “I look forward to welcoming President Trump to Fort Drum and continuing to work to ensure our troops have the resources they need to keep us safe.”
Last summer, Trump made headlines for comments he made to the Wall Street Journal about the desirability of living in what he called “upper New York.” At the time, he urged the residents of upstate New York to move to other states where he promised more job growth. “Don’t worry about your house,” he counseled New Yorkers.
Though physically absent from the Senate, McCain has remained one of Trump’s sharpest critics from his own party — be it the president’s performance abroad last month alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin, or the administration’s zero-tolerance policy that prompted separations of immigrant families at the border.
In turn, Trump repeatedly references McCain during campaign rallies, although not by name. Trump singles out the Arizona senator for voting against the Senate Republican plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act, often referencing the dramatic moment on the Senate floor last July when McCain helped kill the GOP bill with a thumbs-down vote.
But the annual defense policy measure is an overwhelmingly bipartisan measure that helps Trump boast of resources for the military, a top priority for the president.
While in upstate New York on Monday, Trump will also participate in a fundraiser for U.S. Rep. Claudia Tenney, according to The Post-Standard in Syracuse.