Weekly Update: Getting the North Country Safely Back to Work; Holding Working Group Calls; Introducing Bill for Critical Access Hospitals; Returning Tax Dollars Back to the North Country
For the most up-to-date resources and information on COVID-19, visit my website here.
Visiting South Junction Enterprises and Highlighting Advocacy to Expand Rail Service to the North Country
Yesterday, I toured South Junction Enterprises in Plattsburgh, a local business that provides truck-to-rail transloading to local companies and agricultural feed dealers that service farms all over the North Country. During the tour, I met with business owners from the Plattsburgh area who are dependent on the services that South Junction Enterprises provides. South Junction Enterprises has previously reached out to my office expressing their desire to expand rail service in the Plattsburgh area. My office met with representatives from several businesses throughout the area. As a result of these productive conversations, Canadian Pacific Rail announced that they were going to expand rail service back to 5 days of service. The expansion of rail service for the Clinton County region will be of great help to many of our local businesses and manufacturers who rely on that important service. I have had the opportunity to tour many of these local businesses and discuss this issue directly with business owners over the past few months. As our area recovers from the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is essential that we support our small businesses and help them grow as much as possible. This announcement by Canadian Pacific Rail is welcomed in the area, and it will give many of our small businesses across the North Country increased flexibility. I am proud that my office was able to collaborate with local stakeholders, Chambers of Commerce, and the small business community in order to secure this significant result. Read more here.
Visiting Parishville Fire Department, Highlighting USDA Rural Development Grant
On Tuesday, I visited the Parishville Fire Department to thank our hardworking first responders and highlight the important USDA Rural Development Grant that Parishville Fire Department has received. I am committed to ensuring that hard-earned taxpayer dollars are reinvested into our communities, and this support for the new firehouse is a great example.
Holding NY-21 Working Group Calls
This week, I held a series of successful working group phone calls with our farmers, Ag businesses, Cooperative Extension agents, local elected officials, and community leaders to hear their concerns, the issues they are facing, and strategies for reopening the North Country safely. It is very important for me to stay in contact with stakeholders like these in order to ensure I am meeting their needs and advocating for them effectively at the federal level. I will continue to hold these working group calls next week.
Statement on Normalized Relations Between the UAE and Israel
I congratulate President Trump, Israel and the United Arab Emirates on Thursday’s historic diplomatic accomplishment of establishing fully normalized relations between the UAE and Israel. The UAE is now the first Gulf country to officially establish relations with Israel, and joins Jordan and Egypt as the only three Arab states to do so. This breakthrough provides a framework for mutually beneficial agreements on diplomatic and commercial interests. This event will also serve as an example for further recognition of Israel throughout the Arab world and is a huge leap forward towards Middle East peace and stability. Read more here.
Veteran Treatment Court Legislation Signed into Law by President Trump
I announced on Monday that my bipartisan legislation, the Veteran Treatment Court Coordination Act, was signed into law by President Trump this past weekend. The Veteran Treatment Court Coordination Act gives veterans who commit non-violent crimes while transitioning to civilian life a chance at rehabilitation. It establishes a program within the Department of Justice, in coordination with the VA, to provide grants, training, and technical assistance to help state, local, and tribal governments develop and maintain veteran treatment courts. This legislation was reintroduced last January and was passed by the House last fall. Our veterans deserve the best possible treatment when they return home from serving our country, and the resources made available to them under this law will work towards developing and expanding support programs for them. Due to the psychological impact and the stressors of their service, some veterans become entangled in the criminal justice system. This important legislation provides non-violent offenders a chance to take action and rehabilitate themselves through a special program that is more tailored to meet veterans’ unique needs. I am very proud to have introduced and advocated for this legislation through the House, and it was a victory for our veterans this weekend when President Trump signed this into law. I will continue to be an outspoken advocate for our veterans and for essential programs and initiatives that support them. Read more here.
Introducing the Protecting Rural Access to Care Act
On Tuesday, along with Congressman Antonio Delgado (D-NY), I introduced the Protecting Rural Access to Care Act, legislation to ensure financially vulnerable rural hospitals are not at-risk of losing their Critical Access Hospital designation over an administrative policy change. The Critical Access Hospital designation provides hospitals enhanced reimbursement rates to keep essential healthcare services in rural communities. The COVID-19 pandemic has presented all of our North Country hospitals with challenges, but the challenges our rural hospitals face are unique. I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation to ensure rural hospitals do not lose their Critical Access Hospital designation, which provides a financial lifeline for hospitals to maintain essential healthcare services for patients in rural communities. I’ve worked directly with CMS on this issue and am glad they have paused recertifications to review their policy change, however our rural hospitals need certainty during this unprecedented time. I am the number one advocate for our North Country hospitals and will continue to work and advocate on their behalf to meet the unique challenges they face. Read more here.
Announcing Department of Labor Grant for St. Regis Mohawk Tribe
On Wednesday, I announced that the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe will receive $156,909 in Indian and Native American Programs (INAP) funding. $134,361 of the award is designated for adult employment and training, while the remaining $22,548 is designated to support youth workforce investment activities. I am excited to announce this workforce development funding for the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe. This grant will return tax dollars back into the North Country in order to provide more training opportunities at the local level, and I look forward to witnessing the positive impact that it has. I will continue to advocate for programs like these that help adults and youth further their workforce training and develop important skills. Read more here.
Announcing National Science Foundation Grant for St. Lawrence University
On Wednesday, I announced that St. Lawrence University will receive a $288,990.00 National Science Foundation Grant to support their acquisition of a Spectrometer. This device is intended for research and research training purposes. This award is supported by the Major Research Instrumentation and Chemistry Research Instrumentation Programs. The National Science Foundation (NSF) supports research, innovation, and discovery that provides the foundation for economic growth in this country. I am excited to announce funding for this project at St. Lawrence University, one of the North Country’s great research institutions. This grant returns tax dollars to our district to support teaching and research for undergraduate students in chemistry and biochemistry, not only just at St. Lawrence, but at SUNY Canton and SUNY Potsdam as well. I look forward to seeing how this funding influences scientific research and collaboration between these institutions, and I will continue to advocate for targeted funding that has a positive impact on our North Country higher education institutions. Read more here.
Encouraging Census Participation
Important Census Update: The Census Bureau will begin emailing households in low-responding areas to encourage them to respond to the 2020 Census. Millions of emails will be sent this week and then grow in numbers and continue into September. These emails supplement a final campaign reminding people to respond to the 2020 Census on their own, as census takers begin asking households to respond to the census. The email messages will come from email@example.com. Read more here.
If you have not already, be sure to fill out your 2020 Census. The census determines how hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funding flow into our communities, including NY-21, which will directly fund our police departments, firefighters, schools and more. In mid-April, the Census Bureau began mailing the paper questionnaire to homes that have not yet responded online or by phone. If you receive mail through a P.O. Box, the Census Bureau will not be able to send you a response form, as they require your physical address to count you at the place where you live. Only a complete street address will help the Bureau accurately count you in the right place. If you cannot receive mail at your home, a Census Bureau worker may deliver a questionnaire, leave information about responding, or interview you. You can complete the census online at my2020census.gov. You can also call the Census Bureau at (844)-330-2020. The U.S. Census Bureau is bound by law to keep all of your reported information confidential. Visit my website here for more information.
Sending Letter to Department of Treasury, IRS Requesting Stimulus Payments for Those Who Have Yet to Receive Them
This week, I sent a letter to the Department of Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requesting that they quickly identify and provide stimulus payments to those remaining families and individuals who have yet to receive them. As Congress continues working on additional COVID-19 relief legislation, individuals who have yet to receive their Economic Impact Payments (EIP) as directed in the CARES Act must be immediately prioritized. While the EIP program was widely successful for tens of thousands of North Country families, I am committed to working with the Administration to ensure every family has access to this needed economic stimulus. My office has worked with our federal agencies to claim millions of dollars of stimulus payments for constituents, however we still hear from constituents who have not received their stimulus check yet. These payments have been very helpful to many families in the North Country as they address the financial strain caused by COVID-19, and it is essential that we ensure that everyone who is entitled to a stimulus check, as provided by the CARES Act, receives one as soon as possible. I will continue to work with my colleagues in Congress along with those at Treasury and IRS to ensure that these Economic Impact Payments are disbursed promptly and securely. Read more here.
Sending Letter to Leadership Requesting Assistance for Cooperative Extension
I recently sent a letter along with my House colleagues requesting that the next COVID-19 financial assistance package include support for Cooperative Extension in the states that have been most impacted by the pandemic. The Cooperative Extension regional agriculture team system in New York is now at risk because of the dire state of county finances as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Cooperative Extension system is a great resource for our North Country farmers and also an employer of many people in our communities. I have personally spoken to Extension Agents, regional ag teams, and farmers who agree that the resources, materials, and best practices that Cooperative Extension has provided throughout the COVID-19 pandemic have helped many farms to keep their employees and businesses protected. The programs that Cooperative Extension provides to farmers, communities, and families in the North Country are crucial, and I will continue to advocate for funding to support them. Read more here.
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