Congress

NY-19: Delgado Releases TV Ad, Showcases Roots

The Delgado for Congress campaign released a new digital ad this morning, taking voters down memory lane with Antonio Delgado, the Democrat running to unseat freshman Republican John Faso for New York’s 19th congressional district.

The video is narrated by Delgado, beginning:

“I live in Rhinebeck, but my story beings in Schenectady. We lived here in a rented apartment, working class. Everything we had we earned. The rules were simple: go to church, listen to your teachers, stay out of trouble.”

He says through hard work and employment at General Electric, his parents elevated the family from working to middle class, eventually moving from a rented apartment to building their own home. Delgado links his commitment to family values, fighting for affordable healthcare and good jobs to this upbringing, “The values my parents instilled in me growing up here are the same values that drive me to run for Congress — honesty, hard work and service. I believe that when you make a promise, you keep it.”

“My story is grounded in the set of values that I was raised on. Here’s the truth: for too long our leaders in Washington have been putting politics over people, have been putting dollars over democracy.”

Delgado is an attorney with degrees from Colgate University and Harvard Law School. This is his first bid for public office.

NY-19: Faso Asks, Delgado Answers

The battle over the future of ICE has come to NY-19.

Republican Rep. John Faso’s campaign manager Tom Szymanski posted a statement earlier this week on Faso’s Facebook page asking if the congressman’s Democratic challenger, Antonio Delgado, supports the call by his fellow Democrats for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency to be abolished.

Several high profile New York Democrats have already jumped on board calling for the agency’s end, most recently, Queens Democrat Sen. Mike Gianaris.

The Republicans, led by President Donald Trump, have leapt to ICE’s defense, with some predicting that this issue will help the GOP preserve its control of Congress in the upcoming midterm elections.

“The service that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement provides in keeping our communities safe is invaluable, and it is disturbing to hear elected Democrats and Democratic candidates for office calling to abolish ICE,” Szymanski wrote.

Szymanski singled out a number of prominent Democrats, including NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon, and recently victorious NY-14 candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, as well as “other fellow-Progressives on the loony left by wishing to abolish ICE,” adding: “Voters deserve to know whether Mr. Delgado will work to abolish the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.”

This morning, Delgado responded with a statement of his own, and suggested that in the future, Faso contact him directly and not resort to using an intermediary to handle his inquiries.

“Congressman Faso should feel free to contact me directly with his inquiries about my positions,” Delgado said. “I would be happy to exchange cell phone numbers so that he does not need his staffer to send out statements written by (House Speaker) Paul Ryan. I am eager to discuss our country’s immigration policies and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) with the Congressman.”

He added: “Spoiler alert: I do not support abolishing ICE.”

Delgado also took the opportunity to criticize Faso’s voting record on healthcare, and noted his relationship with Ryan, who is not seeking re-election this fall.

Faso has received fundraising assistance from the Congressional Leadership Fund. Protecting the freshman congressman in the battle for NY-19, which has changed political hands several times in recent election cycles, is of particular interest to Republicans as they try to maintain their majority.

Ryan has also appeared at past fundraisers in support of Faso, who is seeking a second term.

Farley Calls Gillibrand’s Call To Eliminate ICE A ‘Publicity Stunt’

During an interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo Thursday, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY, became the first sitting U.S. senator to call for the elimination of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Gillibrand was responding to a question from Cuomo regarding the far left-leaning policies of upstart congressional primary winner Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who campaigned in part on the platform.

Gillibrand seemed to surprise the host when she said she agreed it was time to get rid of the agency.

“I believe that it has become a deportation force and I think you should separate the criminal justice from the immigration issues and I think you should reimagine ICE under a new agency with a very different mission and take those two missions out,” Gillibrand said. “We believe that we should protect families that need our help and that is not what ICE is doing today and that’s why I believe you should get rid of it, start over, reimagine it and build something that actually works.”

The senators Republican opponent this fall, Chele Farley, called it a publicity stunt from a politician who wants to run for president. Farley pointed to agency statistics, noting ICE made 4,818 criminal arrests last year including nearly 800 M#-13 gang members.

“ICE was created in the wake of 9/11 to protect our country. The agency is charged with protecting our borders and ensuring we have a fair and lawful immigration process. They are responsible for and have been successful in rounding up MS-13 gang members for deportation, including a major bust in Suffolk County in March 2018,” she said. “It is unconscionable that Kirsten Gillibrand wants to protect MS-13 gang members instead of our citizens and flood our communities with drugs rather than do her job and uphold her constitutional oath to safeguard our country.”

Gillibrand endorsed long-time Congressman Joe Crowley in his primary against Ocasio-Cortez which drew some criticism from the eventual winner. The senator said she supported Crowley for his leadership in the House and because he is a friend but it doesn’t mean she can’t be excited for Ocasio-Perez and what she’s going to do.

Collins, Rubio Seek Chinese-Owned Business Ban For SBA Benefits

From the Morning Memo:

Western New York Republican Rep. Chris Collins has introduced legislation that would prevent businesses owned by Chinese citizens from accessing federal Small Business Administration aid.

Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio is sponsoring the bill in his house. Earlier this week, Rubio accused President Donald Trump, his erstwhile 2016 opponent, of backtracking on promises to limit Chinese investment in American companies. The senator argued that China, which is often accused of stealing American intellectual property, is also using federal assistance to simply and legally buy companies with cutting edge ideas.

“This bill will ensure that our tax dollars aren’t going overseas to China, our biggest economic competitor,” Rubio said.

Collins did not echo the senator’s criticism of Trump, for whom the congressman is a frequent and fervent surrogate, but did agree with the basis of the bill.

“The SBA exists to help Main Street America grow and flourish, not to aid companies whose profits go to China,” he said. “This is a common-sense reform that provides a greater check on where taxpayer dollars are going, because they certainly should not be going to China.”

“SBA programs should focus on helping small business owners in communities like Western New York, and I am proud to join with Senator Rubio to advance this important legislation.”

Under the current law, according to Collins’ office, Chinese-owned businesses can obtain a federally guaranteed loan, surety bond, research and development grant, or disaster loan, among other SBA programs.

NY-25: GOP Candidate Maxwell Reintroduces Himself

The Republican candidate for New York’s 25th Congressional District has kept a pretty low profile over the last several months.

Admittedly, Dr. Jim Maxwell said the circumstances have changed since he announced his candidacy in January. Namely, long-time incumbent Louis Slaughter passed away in March at the age of 88.

In the aftermath, the Democratic party scrambled to find her replacement with four candidates ultimately coming forward for a primary. Tuesday night, current Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle convincingly won that election and his party is rallying behind him.

With his opponent now clear, Maxwell took the opportunity Wednesday to reintroduce himself and his platforms. The neurosurgeon said his priorities include fixing the health care system, federal funding for cancer research, taking steps to get the national debt under control and fighting public corruption.

He said despite the significant developments in this race, his campaign hasn’t changed for several reasons. First, he said he remains the same person who entered the fray earlier this year. Maxwell also doesn’t believe many voters see much of a difference between Slaughter and Morelle, both of whom he said would represent the status quo.

“I am a fresh face, no political baggage. My opponent on the other hand, Joe Morelle, is a career politician steeped in the ways of party division and coming from an Albany filled with corruption and gridlock,” he said.

In general though, Maxwell did not focus on criticizing his opponents, current or former, during the press conference. He congratulated all of the Democrats who participated in the primary and spoke respectfully of Slaughter’s career.

“Although we sometimes disagreed, we shared the same dedication to Monroe County and the same appreciation for science and research. We also shared the same passion for women’s rights. I am a staunch supporter of the #MeToo movement and I will advocate for women when I am in Congress,” he said.

The candidate said he has no intention of “going to Washington to toe the party line” and that he would stand up to anyone who hurt Monroe County, even if that were the president. Maxwell said he supports President Donald Trump and believes his ability to connect with disenfranchised voters and his focus on business are good things.

However, he said Trump needs to be “called to task” for some things including his attitude toward women and his tit-for-tat social media style.

“When I get to Washington and I meet him, the first thing I’m going to do is ask him for his cell phone and I’m not going to give it back,” Maxwell said.

He said he does not expect the president, who has offered his support to many mid-term Republican congressional candidates, to be involved in his campaign.

Higgins: ‘They’re going after, big shock, Medicare’

From the Morning Memo:

Western New York Democratic Rep. Brian Higgins laid into the House Republican 2019 budget plan during a Budget Committee markup meeting yesterday.

Higgins was openly critical about proposed cuts to Medicaid and Social Security, as well as the GOP infrastructure plan. He said his colleagues across the aisle are proposing the cuts to make up for the tax reform bill passed last year, which, he said, added $1.9 trillion to the federal deficit over the next decade.

“We are told that these tax cuts would pay for themselves through the magic of dynamic scoring, or rebranded supply side trickle-down economics,” Higgins said. “Obviously, that has not worked, and it’s not going to work here. Now, because of the debt and deficit that they created, they’re going after, big shock, Medicare.”

The congressman said plans to give seniors vouchers to purchase their own insurance in place of the federal plan is flawed because they have preexisting conditions. He said that is why Medicare was established in the first place.

“Prior to 1965, it was very difficult for somebody that was an older American to purchase a health insurance policy, because health insurance companies didn’t want to write a policy for someone who is older and sicker, and has a higher utilization rate and mostly has pre-existing conditions,” Higgins said.

Meanwhile, the congressman said that even though the president promised major infrastructure investment during his campaign in 2016, the actual bill represents a $200 billion investment over a decade. That, he said, is roughly the same amount of money the country invested in roads and bridges in Afghanistan.

Higgins called this an “appalling lack of commitment,” and said the federal government should be spending $1.5 trillion for infrastructure upgrades, maintaining that doing so would create 34.5 million jobs over five years.

WNY Delegation Criticizes U.S. Transportation Secretary

From the Morning Memo:

Western New York’s Congressional delegation reacted quickly and in a bipartisan fashion to comments made by U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elain Chao about pilot training standards.

At an event sponsored by the Washington Post, Chao attributed the regional airlines pilot shortage to a rule requiring 1,500 training hours. She said Congress needs to have a robust discussion about lowering that threshold.

The rule was instituted in 2010, in large part due to an intense lobbying effort from family members of those who died on Colgan Air Flight 3407. The National Transportation Safety Board deemed the crash was caused by pilot error, and that pilots were insufficiently trained.

“Obviously we hold the memories of those who are lost in our hearts, and we don’t ever want to see an accident like that again or any accident ever occur,” Chao said. “But there is this side effect, unanticipated, corollary impact of reducing the number of pilots, pilots who can very safely fly in our sky. So I think Congress needs to have this discussion, and we will abide by the wishes of Congress.”

In response, members of Congress, Republicans Chris Collins and Tom Reed and Democrat Brian Higgins, as well as New York’s two Democratic U.S. senators, wrote a letter to the secretary. They expressed “extreme disappointment” with her comments, reminding her that airlines have had five years to adjust to the rules.

The delegation posited that the real reason for a pilot shortage is the failure by airlines to offer pilots competitive wages. They also noted the United States is in the midst of the longest stretch in the country’s history, by far, without a fatality caused by pilot error.

“Ask passengers boarding an airplane who is willing to settle for a pilot that is less trained, and I don’t believe one flyer would volunteer to make that sacrifice,” Higgins said. “With Flight 3407, Captain Sully’s Miracle on the Hudson, and the most recent Southwest incident, history shows us again and again that training and experience matter.”

“Congress has already had discussion on this, held numerous hearings and taken action. A compromise on flight safety is a compromise on human life, a concession we must not be willing to make.”

Collins said he spoke with Chao in January, and she assured him the pilot standards would remain in place. He said her comments yesterday were in stark contrast to that conversation.

“Instead of talking about eliminating a rule that has kept passengers safe, I’d recommend Secretary Chao talk to the regional airlines and figure out a way they can improve their wages and working conditions to attract and keep pilots,” he said.

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer meanwhile called Chao’s remarks an “affront” to the 3407 families, and a suggestion that puts the safety of the general public at risk.

The delegation has vowed to continue standing with the families who have continued to lobby for years at the U.S. Capitol for additional safety measures.

NY AFL-CIO Endorses Morelle In NY-25

The New York State AFL-CIO on Monday announced its endorsement of Democratic congressional candidate Joe Morelle, the Assembly majority leader who is running for the 25th House district in the Rochester area.

Morelle is among the Democrats vying for the seat held by the late Rep. Louise Slaughter, who died in March.

“Joe Morelle is a natural successor to the late Congresswoman Louise Slaughter who served New Yorkers with such distinction,” said AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento.

“Throughout his years of service as a state Assemblymember, Joe fought hard to create solid middle-class jobs. He went above and beyond to ensure Buy American became law to give a much needed shot in the arm to the manufacturing industry here in New York State and will continue to fight for good jobs as a member of Congress.”

The union also announced its endorsements of Democratic Reps. Yvette Clark and Eliot Engel.

NY-19: Faso Gets Conservative Party Endorsement

Republican Rep. John Faso on Wednesday was endorsed by the state Conservative Party in his bid for a second term to a battleground congressional district in the Hudson Valley.

“John Faso is a principled leader who is focused on improving the private sector economy and bringing jobs back to Upstate New York,” Chairman Mike Long said. “The voters know they can trust John Faso’s word and the Conservative Party is proud to stand with him again.”

A crowded field of Democrats is competing to run against Faso in the general election ahead of next month’s federal primary.

Faso, a former state assemblyman, was elected in 2016 to the district filling the seat of Rep. Chris Gibson, who retired.

“I’m proud to once again have earned the endorsement of the New York Conservative Party,” Faso said. “In Congress, I’ll keep fighting for Upstate New York’s economy and I’m committed to tackling the long-term debt and deficits crisis by looking for ways to ensure our children and grandchildren won’t be left with unsustainable interest payments on the spending of past generations.

NY-11: Grimm Plans Conservative Party Primary

Former Rep. Michael Grimm’s campaign on Tuesday announced plans to take the Conservative Party ballot line from incumbent Republican Dan Donovan in the 11th congressional district.

Grimm, who left Congress after pleaded guilty to tax evasion, plans to use the opportunity-to-ballot mechanism to gain the party’s ballot line this November.

“The voters of Staten Island and Brooklyn deserve a real choice,” Grimm said.

“In this case, they will be able to choose between an anti-Trump liberal who has championed sanctuary cities and amnesty, voted to protect Obamacare, and helped Nancy Pelosi lead the assault on our Second Amendment rights — or a proven conservative with a strong record of delivering results for our community.”

Meanwhile, Grimm’s campaign announced Monday it would hold a fundraiser with Anthony Scaramucci, the erstwhile communications director for President Donald Trump.

“Now more than ever, President Trump needs Republicans in Congress who share his bold vision and will fight to enact the America First agenda,” Grimm said. “The grassroots Conservatives I meet every day are excited to make their choice clear on June 26.”