Fort Drum was the last stop for the three New York lawmakers who hit the road yesterday to strengthen their arguments against cuts in military spending. Republican Representatives Elise Stefanik, John Katko, and Richard Hanna toured the base to show that support for Fort Drum extends beyond New York's North Country.

Stefanick said the visits to the New York Air National Guard's 174th Attack Wing in Syracuse and then to Fort Drum illuminate how the two military installations work together. Working together is also what the three New York Congressional representatives are doing now more than ever. “This is a new way of focusing on strengthening and protecting Fort Drum,” said Stefanik.

Stefanik explained this visit is in part a way to prepare for Fort Drum's listening session later this month in Watertown. Katko, Hanna, and Stefanik will be there in support of the base. Stefanik said she sees the upcoming listening session as an opportunity to show how important Fort Drum is to the local economy, the community, and national security. “This is not an issue that is just important to my district, given my role on the house armed services committee. It’s important to the state and to the nation so I’m excited to have such strong partners in upstate New York as we head into this listening session,” Stefanik said.

Katko pointed out the 174th depends on Fort Drum and Fort Drum depends on the 174th. That is especially true with the drone program. Katko also said both installations are at the cutting edge of what the new army will look like. The three lawmakers said the visits and the upcoming listening session will help bolster their arguments against cuts to the two military installations. The listening session is scheduled for March 20.

WATERTOWN — U.S. Reps. Elise M. Stefanik, R-Willsboro, Richard Hanna, R-Utica, and John Katko, R-Syracuse, will tour Hancock Field Air National Guard Base in Syracuse and the U.S. Army Garrison at Fort Drum on Tuesday.

According to a news release from Ms. Stefanik’s office, the three representatives will “highlight these defense assets in the region and how they will continue to work together to ensure the viability of these facilities for the region and the overall security of our nation.”

The members of Congress are scheduled to tour the airfield in the morning and Fort Drum in the afternoon.

Media availability will be held at 11 a.m. at Hancock Airfield and at 2:25 p.m. on Fort Drum.

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Three Republican members of Congress from Central and Northern New York say they will work together to protect Fort Drum and the 174th Attack Wing at Hancock Field from personnel losses in future Pentagon budget cuts.

U.S. Reps. John Katko, R-Camillus, Richard Hanna, R-Barneveld, and Elise Stefanik, R-Willsboro, plan to tour both bases on Tuesday as part of their effort to show a united front in Congress against the cuts.

Stefanik serves on the House Armed Services Committee, and could be a strong voice with Katko and Hanna in the GOP majority to advocate for the bases.

The Army is in the process of holding hearings at 30 bases across the nation to receive feedback from communities about the potential cuts. The hearing about Fort Drum, home of the 10th Mountain Division, will be 5 p.m. March 20 at Jefferson Community College in Watertown.

The Army is studying the potential impact of reducing its force by an additional 16,000 soldiers and civilian employees at each of nine bases nationwide. The study will present a worst-case scenario of the most extreme cuts if Congress allows the federal sequester budget cuts to remain in place.

The Army says it is required to plan for the extreme cuts as part of the sequester. At its worst, Army officials said, they would have to pare the force from 562,000 soldiers to 420,000.

Fort Drum officials this week released a report showing the base near Watertown had an economic impact of about $1.3 billion on the region in 2014. The base is home to 17,269 soldiers and 18,383 family members, according to the report.

Since fiscal 1988, Fort Drum has infused more than $21 billion into New York's economy, the report said.

Fort Drum's size was already reduced by about 1,500 soldiers as part of a 2013 Army decision to inactivate a combat brigade at the base. Those cutbacks were part of an existing Army plan to cut its overall number of combat brigades from 45 to 33, reducing the size of the Army by 80,000 soldiers by 2017.

WATERTOWN — Rep. Elise M. Stefanik said her decision to vote for a clean funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security was not difficult.

“Every day of the week I will put the interests of the district first,” Ms. Stefanik said. “Plain and simple, I’m not going to vote to shut the government down. I’m not going to vote to shut down the Department of Homeland Security.”

Congress narrowly averted a shutdown of DHS by approving a one-week extension of funding for the department. Ms. Stefanik said that Friday she supported a bill passed by the Senate that removed language undoing President Obama’s executive actions on immigration. That bill was not approved by the House, as Republicans continued to disagree about how to counteract what they have characterized as the president’s abuse of executive authority. The temporary stopgap measure was approved by vote of 357 to 60.

For Ms. Stefanik, who ran on a platform of “crossing the aisle” to find “bipartisan solutions,” Friday’s vote represented an opportunity to make good on her promises.

“I ran on getting away from this type of Washington dysfunction,” she said Sunday.

It also represented the end of her second month in office after a historic victory as the youngest woman ever elected to Congress.

In February, Ms. Stefanik opened district offices in Glens Falls and Plattsburgh, hired a legislative assistant for military affairs, was named vice-chairwoman of the Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness and traveled to the Middle East.

During the February recess, Ms. Stefanik toured parts of Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Afghanistan with other members of the House Armed Services Committee.

Ms. Stefanik and Representatives Seth Moulton, D-Mass., Joe Wilson, R-S.C., and Brad Ashford, D-Neb., met with officials including King Abdullah II of Jordan and Iraqi President Fuad Masum.

Though some have questioned the wisdom or necessity of the trip, Ms. Stefanik said it was worth the time and money.

“There is no question that getting briefings from military commanders on the ground in countries like Afghanistan and Iraq is a more effective way to learn than in hearing rooms,” Ms. Stefanik said.

Ms. Stefanik said one of the most valuable parts of the trip was meeting with troops from New York serving overseas and hearing their perspectives on issues both at home and abroad.

“It was an extraordinary privilege for me to be a part of the meetings with the soldiers in the district and show them our support but also to educate myself on some of the key challenges we’re facing in Afghanistan and Iraq,” she said.

For Ms. Stefanik, the month was filled with small victories — legislation on Section 529 College Savings Plans, charitable contributions and grant funding for science, technology, engineering and math programs — and frustrations, including President Obama’s veto of a bill authorizing the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.

Supporters of the pipeline, including Republicans in Congress, have hailed the project as a “jobs creator” and a way to strengthen energy policy and relations with Canada, while environmentalists have decried the pipeline as an ecologically unsound project that will only exacerbate the reliance on fossil fuels.

But with stories of train derailments and explosions becoming more frequent, Ms. Stefanik cited safety as one of the many reasons she is supporting the pipeline.

“The perspective I have from our district is the oil trains that are going at very high speeds throughout parts of the 21st district, in many cases right along waterways and lakes. ... They’re very unsafe,” Ms. Stefanik said.

The job-creating aspect of the project has been called into question.

According to a State Department report about the pipeline, spending on the project would support 42,100 “direct, indirect and induced” jobs, including 3,900 direct construction jobs over a two-year period.

Following construction, the project would generate 50 jobs during operations, the report said.

“I’m pretty confident in standing by the assessment that this will create tens of thousands of jobs,” Ms. Stefanik said.

Ms. Stefanik will be one of the speakers during a listening session March 20 about the future of the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum. She said she has invited other members of the New York state delegation in Washington to attend as well.

“My colleagues on the Armed Services Committee know that I am the go-to person for Fort Drum and I will protect Fort Drum at all costs,” she said.

Representatives Richard Hanna, R-Utica, John Katko, R-Syracuse, and Chris Gibson, R-Kinderhook, are expected to visit the post this month, Ms. Stefanik said.

Circling back to the immigration issue and fight over funding the DHS, Ms. Stefanik said she wanted to see immigration issues solved by the legislative process rather than executive action but that they should be separated from the debate over funding the department.

“We have to stop the policymaking of coming to the brink with discussions of government shutdown,” Ms. Stefanik said. “I support and I am urging leadership to bring up the clean Senate bill, which will provide long-term continuity through September. I am optimistic that if that is brought to the floor it will pass with Democrats and some Republicans.”

U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Willsboro, visited the Middle East this week to get perspective as the House Armed Services Committee prepares to hold hearings on President Obama’s request for authorization to fight Islamic State terrorists.

“The threat of ISIS is not just one country. It’s a regional threat, and it’s also a global threat,” Stefanik said in a telephone interview, after she returned Friday from the weeklong trip to Afghanistan, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait and United Arab Emirates.

Stefanik, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, traveled with an “official” House delegation that also included Reps. Joe Wilson, R-S.C.; Seth Moulton, D-Mass.; and Brad Ashford, D-Neb.

The delegation met with King Abdullah II of Jordan, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Iraqi President Fuad Masum.

“We shared our support from the United States perspective on a bipartisan basis to make sure that our partners in the Middle East can succeed in the long run,” Stefanik said. “And in many cases that’s providing air support, but it’s also providing training for soldiers so that they can fight themselves to defend Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Moulton, the Democrat from Massachusetts, said the trip reinforced the need to have “a political strategy” to defeat ISIS.

“I continue to believe that the best way to stabilize the Middle East is to provide the Iraqi government with diplomatic and political support to empower Iraqi leaders to take on this fight,” he said, in a press release.

The House Armed Services Committee is expected to begin hearings next week on President Obama’s request for authorization to use military force against ISIS, the terrorist group that has seized territory in Syria and Iraq, and is seeking to establish an Islamic state.

The president is seeking war-powers authorization that would expire after three years.

It would end the authorization Congress passed in 2002 for operations in Iraq.

Stefanik said Democrats and Republicans alike have criticized aspects of Obama’s proposal.

“I don’t support the explicit details of the AUMF because I believe it hamstrings our troops in its inability to beat this group in the long run,” she said.

Some of the debate has centered around whether the U.S. should send in ground forces.

Obama has proposed banning long-term, large-scale ground missions such as those in Afghanistan and Iraq, but would permit using ground forces “in other more limited circumstances,” according to The Associated Press.

Stefanik said the use of ground forces should not be ruled out.

“I don’t think any option should be taken off the table,” she said. “But something that I learned on the trip with these meetings with the heads of state is that in many cases what they’re looking to the U.S. for is a commitment to help train and make sure that their troops are able to take this fight in the long run.”

Stefanik said the delegation flew to the Middle East on commercial flights, and then flew around the region on military air craft.

She stayed in a civilian unit at the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan.

“The highlight of the experience” was meeting with soldiers, including some based out of Fort Drum, she said.

“I was very impressed by how closely all the troops follow the discussions in Washington because it has an immediate effect on them,” she said. “It was a great opportunity to educate myself on what it’s like being over there.”

Congressional trips to the Middle East have been fairly common in the past decade.

Local Reps. Chris Gibson, R-Kinderhook, Scott Murphy, D-Glens Falls, Kirsten Gillibrand, D-Greenport and John Sweeney, R-Clifton Park, all visited Iraq or Afghanistan or both.

CANTON - Rep. Elise M. Stefanik said meetings with heads of state across the Middle East gave her new perspective on the collaborative approach needed to tackle threats from radical groups such as the Islamic State.

One fresh perspective came from Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, who told her and other visiting American lawmakers that the threat of radical groups wasn’t limited to his own country, but to the region and the rest of the world.

“The United States needs to lead by example, and we also need to show our allies that we are committed to their success in the long run, and we need to partner with other allies across the world,” Ms. Stefanik said in a phone call with the Times.

A weeklong trip included stops in Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Afghanistan, meeting with officials such as King Abdullah II of Jordan and Iraqi President Fuad Masum.

The trip also included visits with American forces from the district, including some from Fort Drum.

Ms. Stefanik, R-Willsboro, said they were concerned about the effects of sequestration on their ability to be effective. She also said Fort Drum-area soldiers spoke highly of their family connections to the north country community.

In addition to Ms. Stefanik, the American delegation included fellow House Armed Services Committee members Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., and Rep. Brad Ashford, D-Neb.

Ms. Stefanik said that the leaders of the countries she visited, which are predominantly Muslim, argued the violence of ISIS did not represent the Islamic faith, and that King Abdullah called the work of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, “theological fascism.”

She said the arguments about the group’s connection to Islam were best made by the Middle Eastern governments.

One method the Middle Eastern leaders raised for subverting radical groups, Ms. Stefanik said, was “making sure there are jobs and economic opportunity” so young people aren’t being recruited by their radical messages.

In Jordan, Ms. Stefanik said, public opinion against ISIS grew stronger following its recent execution of Jordanian pilot Moaz al-Kasasbeh.

Ms. Stefanik noted the United States’ work in Afghanistan, where a status-of-forces agreement was secured to continue working in the country. That agreement was not in place in Iraq. She said if it had been, she didn’t think Iraq would have seen the Islamic State take swaths of land, as it did.

”I think that’s a lack of leadership from the administration,” Ms. Stefanik said.

Meanwhile, the message from American leaders in Afghanistan was optimistic coming into the spring, when fighting begins to increase. American forces formally shifted to an advisory role this year, with Afghan forces leading the fight against ISIS and the Taliban. Despite rising deaths in Afghan military and police forces, Ms. Stefanik said, leaders such as President Ghani said they were committed to the fight.

“This is going to be a long fight, and their country is at stake,” she said. “That’s what President Ghani talked about. This is a generational fight. It’s a long-term struggle against radical extremists.”

Warren County Democratic Chairwoman Lynne Boecher and Glens Falls Democratic Chairman Roy Thomas were among those who stopped to greet U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Willsboro, on Saturday at an open house at the congresswoman’s Glens Falls office.

“I 100 percent wish her well. I think we have to work in concert,” said Boecher.

Former Washington County Republican Chairman Mike Bittel said he was glad that Democrats attended the open house.

“We have a big tent,” he said.

Diane Collins, co-organizer of Tri-County Transition Initiative, also attended to provide Stefanik with information about global warming.

“I left a memo,” Collins said.

Collins said she invited Stefanik to attend Climate Reality Forum, a day-long program about climate change, March 21 at SUNY Adirondack.

“I hope she’ll attend or send a representative,” Collins said.