Congress

WNY Small Business Owner Announces Congressional Bid

A Western New York small business owner plans to challenge Rep. Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo, this fall. Republican Sally Schratz, a lifelong Amherst resident, said she believes the government needs to change its path.

“Instead of electing a lifelong politician funded by the lobbyists and special interests, it’s time for a new voice for Western New York, someone who has the proven skills to get the job done, stand up for hardworking taxpayers, implement common sense solutions, and most importantly, someone who will empower citizens rather than government,” she said.

Schratz and her husband own Bing’s restaurant in Amherst and she’s served as a member of the town board. She’s came close to unseating an incumbent county legislator in 2009 but lost by a wider margin in the 2011 rematch.

Higgins has been a member of Congress since 2005 and was challenged by Conservative radio host Kathy Weppner in 2014.

 

Gibson Bill Would Update Toxic Chemicals Law

Rep. Chris Gibson has introduced legislation that would update the Toxic Substances Control Act to include enhanced oversight of commercially used chemicals.

The bill comes after the municipal drinking water in the communities of Hoosick Falls and Petersburgh was found to contain dangerous levels of PFOA, a chemical that had been used in manufacturing, but had a lower threshold for safety in water than public health officials advised.

“Given the frightening experiences of residents in Hoosick Falls and Petersburgh, where a chemical used in manufacturing has contaminated public water systems and private wells and raised serious concerns about long-term health impacts, I am proud to have joined my colleagues in passing this bipartisan bill to bring EPA standards up to date, modernize the approach to chemical testing, and better protect our people,” Gibson said in a statement.

“This bill affirms what I told the EPA Administrator earlier this year: We need more regular testing of commercially used chemicals to keep pace with scientific advances and provide consumers with the best information possible. What transpired in Rensselaer County is totally unacceptable, and we can’t let it happen in more communities.”

The bill passed the House of Representatives 403-12 and updates the current law by removing barriers to multiple chemical tests and requires safety reviews of chemicals currently in use. It also requires more information be made available to the public and limits animal testing whenever there is a reliable alternative. Deadlines for decisions by the EPA would also be set.

Schumer Says He’ll Still Be Active In NY When He Becomes Democratic Leader

Sen. Chuck Schumer is poised to become the first New Yorker to hold the party’s top leadership position in the Senate when current leader Harry Reid retires at the end of his term.

“There’s never 100 percent safe bet but I have the support of all my colleagues so it seems pretty good,” said Schumer, D-New York.

He’s facing his own challenge in Conservative attorney Wendy Long but right now appears to be more concerned about other races this fall.

“The question is, will it be majority leader or minority leader? Will the Democrats have the majority or minority leader? I’m very hopeful it can be majority leader. I’m working hard to see that but who knows,” Schumer said.

Either way, it will mean increased responsibility for Schumer, but the senator said he will continue to be visible throughout New York state. Schumer’s been prolific when it comes to press conference during his more than 15 years in the Senate.

“I’ll be as active in New York state as ever. I’ll use whatever clout I have to help New York but I’ll still be around. It’s just in my bones,” he said.

Schumer, of course, made this promise from another press conference in Niagara Falls Monday. He said over the weekend he spoke at three Western New York graduation ceremonies.

“I do my job better in Washington because I stay in touch with people and that’s not going to change,” he said. “The one nice thing, God blessed me with a lot of energy so hopefully I’ll have enough energy to do both.”

Trump Supporter Floats Rice As VP; Says Support Of ‘Establishment Elite’ Not Needed

The first sitting congressman to endorse Donald Trump for president doesn’t presume to be in a position to give Trump advice, but as the Trump campaign starts to vet potential vice presidential candidates, Chris Collins said he’d add one name to the list if asked.

“I can tell you my first, second, and third choice is Condoleezza Rice. She’s a game changer,” Collins said.

Given Trump’s icy relationship with Rice’s former boss, George W. Bush, the Western New York Republican admits it’s unclear if the former Secretary of State would even consider teaming up with Trump.

“But if she did it, she would follow Mr. Trump and become the first female President of the United States,” said Collins.

Collins made the suggestion as the Trump team prepares for a much anticipated meeting with GOP congressional leaders Thursday in Washington. Collins is the co-chair of Trump’s House Leadership Committee and was called to House Speaker Paul Ryan’s office, Wednesday afternoon.

“What I shared with Mr. Ryan today is that Donald Trump listens. He is someone who seeks alternative positions. He is someone from the private sector, as I am, who wants to hear different points of view. He wants to hear lively debate. And he is someone generally in meetings who lets other people do the talking and you wouldn’t necessarily see that on the campaign trail when he’s at rallies,” Collins said.

Ryan and Trump will meet for the first time since the Speaker told CNN last week he was not ready to endorse the presumptive nominee. The comments caught Collins and other Trump supporters off guard.

“He’s (Ryan) agreed we’re going to be united and I said ‘well the sooner you can get comfortable enough to say that, very directly, the better, frankly.’ I’d be thrilled if it’s tomorrow but I guess I don’t necessarily expect it will be, but it will be over the next few weeks, I’m sure, and I’ll let the two of them work that out,” said Collins.

Trump has been under pressure from traditional and more conservative Republicans to not only embrace traditional GOP ideas, but to moderate his tone on the campaign trail. Collins doesn’t expect Trump to bow to that pressure.

“Mr. Trump has to be true to who he is, and I think we will continue to see and hear an outspoken individual but his top-line message hasn’t changed,” Collins said. “The George Bushes, one and two, the Mitt Romneys? He does not need them in his camp. In fact the more that they get aggravated the more Donald Trump’s popularity soars. We want a united party but if you’re talking about establishment Republicans I want them on board, but quite frankly, no, Donald Trump doesn’t need them on board to win this election.”

As far as choosing a VP, Collins will leave that to the Trump team, but he’s holding onto hope unification leads to Rice joining the ticket.

“She brings extraordinary respect and experience. And certainly being a woman she would assist with this ticket. She my kind of thinking outside the box kind of choice,” Collins added.

Gibson Calls For Investigation Into Drinking Water Contamination (Updated)

Rep. Chris Gibson called on Wednesday for an investigation into the state and federal government’s response to the contamination of drinking water in the upstate communities of Hoosick Falls and Petersburgh.

The state ultimately was able to provide a new filtration system as they seek to also identify new potential sources of drinking water following tests that showed high levels of the chemical PFOA.

Manufacturing plants in the area, including Saint-Gobain, are believed to be the source of the contamination.

But Gibson, who retires at the end of the year, believes the cause of the contamination, as well as the responses from the state and federal agencies tasked with overseeing clean drinking water, needs to be assessed.

“This situation has continued to evolve and, in some ways, worsen over the past year,” Gibson wrote in a letter this week to Rep. Jason Chaffetz, the Utah Republican who chairs the House’s Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

“Although there have been actions taken to address these problems, many of my constituents are deeply concerned with potential ongoing health risks to their families, delayed and confused responses by the state and federal agencies involved, and lack of accountability to find out what happened and why it was allowed to go on after the initial detection of the contamination of their water supply.”

The letter comes after the Democratic-led Assembly initially planned to hold hearings on water contamination issues around the state, but ultimately declined to after the passage of the budget in March.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo earlier this year announced the formation of a task force of state officials that would respond to drinking water contamination issues immediately when they arise.

Updated: In a statement, one of the Democrats who hopes to replace Gibson in the 19th congressional district, Zephyr Teachout, backed the call for hearings.

“Clean water is our precious natural resource—essential for our economy, precious to our environment and essential for our health,” she said. “I applaud Congressman Gibson’s call for federal hearings on the crisis in Hoosick Falls,” she said. “Big corporations and powerful insiders have warped the laws that should protect our communities and shut out the voices of the people whose health and livelihood are at stake.”

Letter to Chairman Chaffetz by Nick Reisman

NY-3: Israel Endorses Stern

Democratic Rep. Steve Israel on Monday endorsed Steve Stern to replace him in Congress ahead of the June party primary.

Stern, a Suffolk County legislator, won the endorsement of Israel over his fellow Democrats in the race, former Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi and Jon Kaiman, who coordinated Hurricane Sandy relief efforts.

Israel, a former chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, is retiring from the Nassau County House seat later this year.

“While I admire all of the Democratic candidates, I believe that Steve Stern is best able to continue and build on my four priorities in Congress: consistently supporting women’s rights, standing up for US-Israel relations, and demonstrating leadership on the environment and veterans,” Israel said.

Stern was previously endorsed by a range of Long Island officials, including Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone.

“I am honored to receive Rep. Israel’s support and humbled by the confidence he’s placed in me,” Stern said. “This endorsement is particularly meaningful for me because Rep. Israel and I share so many of the same priorities. We both believe in fighting to make sure women get paid what they deserve for equal work, in protecting our environment and in making sure that middle-class values are at the top of the agenda. Rep. Steve Israel has been a true leader in our community for so many years, and I pledge to continue his important work in Congress.”

Teachout, Plumb And Slaughter Endorsed By NYSUT

The New York State United Teachers union this week doled out a round of early endorsements for two Democratic congressional hopefuls and one incumbent.

NYSUT endorsed Zephyr Teachout, a candidate running in the 19th congressional district and John Plumb, who is running in the 23rd district. The umbrella group also endorsed Democratic Rep. Louise Slaughter in the Rochester area’s 25th congressional district.

“These candidates have each demonstrated a commitment to the issues important to NYSUT, its members and the professions we practice,” said NYSUT President Karen Magee.

The endorsements for Teachout and Slaughter carry over into the general election as well as the primary campaign.

“NYSUT members go all out for candidates in whom they believe and trust,” Pallotta said. “Louise Slaughter, Zephyr Teachout and John Plumb are outstanding public servants who we are proud to support.”

Tenney Endorsed By NYers For Constitutional Freedoms

Republican congressional candidate Claudia Tenney was endorsed Tuesday by the socially conservative New Yorkers For Constitutional Freedoms political action committee.

The PAC’s endorsement comes as Tenney faces a Republican primary for the central New York congressional seat that is being vacated by Republican Rep. Richard Hanna.

“I am honored to accept the endorsement of NYCF, a leader in fighting to preserve personal and religious liberty, the sanctity of life and constitutional government,” Tenney said in a statement. “During my time in the New York State Assembly, I have worked alongside NYCF to advocate for commonsense conservative solutions to the failed big government policies and social experiments of New York City liberals. I look forward to working with Rev. Jason McGuire and NYCF to advance those same policies in Congress.”

Tenney last challenged Hanna for the congressional seat in 2014, though she lost the nomination to him that year. This year, Hanna chose to not run for re-election after Tenney launched a second bid for the district.

In a statement, the Rev. Jason McGuire, the executive director of the PAC, cited Tenney’s opposition to the SAFE Act and expanded abortion provisions.

“During her tenure in the New York State Assembly, Tenney has taken principled stands by voting against the SAFE Act, late-term abortion expansion and taxpayer funding of campaigns; she has also demonstrated conservative leadership by sponsoring the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, along with a bill to repeal the SAFE Act,” McGuire said. “The Assemblywoman has also spoken out against casino expansion and in favor of additional protections for victims of human trafficking and religious liberty.”

Reed Becomes Second New York House Member To Endorse Trump

Rep. Tom Reed became the second member of the state’s House delegation on Wednesday to endorse Republican Donald Trump for president.

Reed in a statement released by his campaign said Republican voters “favor Donald Trump than any other candidate” in the GOP primary.

“The United States simply cannot have someone in the White House that will continue the failed foreign policy and economic agenda of Barack Obama,” said Reed, who represents a Southern Tier-area congressional district in upstate New York.

Reed called for Republicans to unify behind a Trump candidacy, but at the same time called for a broader and more civil conversation in the campaign.

“Now is the time to unite behind the candidate who I believe will be our nominee, Donald Trump,” Reed continued. “We must move beyond the bombastic rhetoric to positive discussion about creating jobs and improving the lives of all Americans – We all care about improving people’s lives – that should always be our focus. I will use my voice to influence all Republican candidates at all levels to focus on issues and positive solutions for all Americans.”

Earlier this month, Rep. Chris Collins of western New York endorsed Trump for president.

Rep. Collins On CNN Responds To Violence At Trump Rallies

As has been a pretty regular occurrence since he became the first sitting Congressman to endorse Donald Trump, Western New York Rep. Chris Collins, R-Clarence, made another appearance on the cable news networks Tuesday morning.  This time Collins appeared for an interview with Chris Cuomo on CNN’s New Day.

“Obviously today is going to be a very important day with Florida and Ohio. So as this day comes to an end, if Donald Trump wins both Florida and Ohio, we will have our presumptive nominee,” Collins said.

Cuomo questioned Collins about recent violence at Donald Trump rallies, asking if Trump “should calm down his rhetoric.” Collins said Democrats are paying protesters to disrupt the rallies.

“Is the right response to say punch them in the face and other threatening comments? Do you think that’s what you would do if it was your rally?” Cuomo asked.

“It comes down to, one thing you know about Donald Trump, if you punch him he is going to punch back,” Collins answered.

Collins said Trump has shifted his rhetoric in the last few days. He said nobody likes to see what’s going on but said Democrats need to take responsibility for their role in it.

Cuomo pushed further asking Collins if he could prove the protesters are paid. The CNN host noted some of the same groups have been at Hillary Clinton rallies.

Cuomo asked if Clinton was paying protesters to disrupt her own events too.

“Who knows what Hillary Clinton is going to do. We know from her playbook she’ll do anything she can to be the President of the United States,” Collins said.