Weekly Update: Statement on Racist Criminal Act; Setting the Record Straight Over State and Local Aid; Cosponsoring Bill to Give Aid to Childcare Providers; Cosponsoring Bills to Support Veterans

July 31, 2020

Weekly Update

For the most up-to-date resources and information on COVID-19, visit my website here


Statement on Racist Criminal Act in Massena

Myself, along with St. Lawrence County Chairman of the Board of Legislators Joe Lightfoot, New York State Assemblyman Mark Walczyk, New York State Senator Patty Ritchie, and New York State Senator Joe Griffo released the following statement on the recent report of a noose found in a constituent’s backyard in Massena:

This disgusting display of racism must be thoroughly investigated, and the criminals found responsible must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. This hateful display has no place in the North Country – or anywhere in our nation – and we condemn it in the strongest terms. This is a pivotal moment in our country where we must come together to work against this abhorrent behavior to ensure it never happens again in our communities. We call for a full investigation until the criminals are found and prosecuted, and we stand with the affected family in Massena and grieve with them. 

Setting the Record Straight: Cuomo Falsely Attacks Me Over State and Local Aid

This week, Governor Cuomo falsely attacked the North Country, and me. It’s no wonder that Governor Cuomo’s current approval ratings are in the abysmal 20s in the North Country. Governor Cuomo has been so busy blaming everyone else (President Trump, healthcare workers, seniors, De Blasio, nursing home administrators, and the New York Post) for his own fatal failures to manage New York’s COVID crisis, that he and his political cronies must have forgotten how to read before lobbing this false attack. I have been clear and consistent throughout the COVID crisis calling for robust support for local governments. In fact, to the Governor’s dismay, on every call I have had with County and local elected officials and school districts, their plea has been to ensure that funds are direct to counties and do not flow through Albany because they know all too well Cuomo’s punitive and damaging record of withholding funds from local governments. Let’s not forget that Governor Cuomo refused to release billions in FMAP money to counties until I publicly called on him to do so. If anyone is withholding money from our counties, it’s Governor Cuomo. In addition to the $9 billion in direct federal aid to New York State and the $165 million I have personally worked to deliver to North Country hospitals, I have a clear and consistent record of advocating for increased funding for our state and local governments throughout the COVID-19 crisis and I will continue to work with my bipartisan colleagues on this critical issue – and I will not be dissuaded by the Governor’s efforts to deflect from his own widely panned and abysmal record. Read more here.

Cosponsoring Bipartisan Legislation to Provide Local Child Care Providers with Aid

I am cosponsoring the Back to Work Child Care Grants Act of 2020, legislation led by Congressman Tom Reed. This bipartisan legislation will ensure child-care providers across the country receive critical federal support in order to serve hardworking families. U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), along with Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), recently led the introduction of the proposal in the Senate. The COVID-19 crisis continues to disrupt our economy and daily life, and our child-care providers have been adversely affected. Not only will this bipartisan legislation provide much-needed resources to our child-care providers, it will ensure our children are receiving the necessary care and education they need. As our country works to get back on track economically, it’s important we consider those who continue to selflessly serve our hardworking families each day.

The Back to Work Child Care Grants Act of 2020 supports economic recovery and helps parents go back to work by providing:

  • Critical resources to help child-care providers reopen and stay open
  • Provides 9-month financial assistance for providers to open, welcome children safely, and ensure a robust child-care sector is available for families
  • Allows states to design state-specific plans to support child-care centers, operators, providers in their state
    Sends funds to child-care providers more quickly without administrative red tape
  • Safe environments for children
  •      Requires all providers receiving assistance to follow all state and local health and safety guidelines
  •      Requires states to ensure a diverse field of child-care setting options for parents, including center-based, family child care, and faith-based options

Helping the House Pass Sami’s Law

On Wednesday, I voted in favor of Sami’s Law, a bill requiring safety measures for easier ride-sharing vehicle identification by riders. Samantha Josephson was a 21-year-old student at the University of South Carolina who was tragically killed after she got into a car she thought was her Uber ride. Sami’s parents are now seeking to educate ride-share passengers on the best safety practices, using the acronym S-A-M-I (“Stop, Ask, Match, Inform”). This legislation requires ridesharing companies to implement driver verification systems for passengers to use prior to beginning the trip, and establishes a process for DOT to issue standards for technology-based matching systems. I am a cosponsor of this bill, and it passed the House this on Wednesday. The death of Samantha Josephson was a heartbreaking tragedy that should never happen again. This important legislation will raise and promote safety best practices for passengers and require the implementation of technologies to ensure ride-share vehicles and drivers are as transparent with their passengers as possible. I am proud to vote in favor of the passage of this legislation today, and it is my hope that its passage will bring some small consolation to the Josephson family as they work to raise awareness and prevent this from happening again, in their daughter’s honor. 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 2020census@subscriptions.census.gov. 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.

Introducing Bipartisan Resolution to Commemorate the 20th Anniversary of the Veterans History Project

I am introducing a bipartisan Resolution along with Congressmen Ron Kind (D-WI), Brian Mast (R-FL), and Dan Newhouse (R-WA) to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Veterans History Project at the Library of Congress. The Veterans History Project has allowed veterans to record more than 110,000 stories of their experiences serving our nation and preserved them in the Library of Congress. It is absolutely critical that the courage, selfless service, and sacrifice of our nation’s veterans must be remembered for generations to come. The Veterans History Project at the Library of Congress is a powerful and meaningful way for veterans to share their personal stories of serving our great country. This Resolution commemorates the 20th anniversary of this project, and honors our nation’s brave veterans – we are forever indebted to them.  For information on how to submit a story to the Veterans History Project, go to www.loc.gov/vets

Cosponsoring Bill to Support Hearing Health Services in the Department of Veterans Affairs

I am cosponsoring a bill that will direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to appoint at least one licensed hearing aid specialist at each VAMC and prescribe the technical qualifications for the licensed hearing aid specialists. This legislation would help ensure that veterans receive timely access to the hearing health services they deserve. Our veterans deserve the best possible healthcare and other important services, such as hearing specialists. I have spoken to many veterans and families in my district who will greatly benefit from this legislation. This is particularly an issue in many of our rural communities. I am proud to be a cosponsor of this legislation that will ensure our veterans are able to receive expanded access to hearing health services, and I will continue to advocate for initiatives like these to help our North Country veterans. Read more here.

Cosponsoring the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act

I am cosponsoring the 21st Century Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, which would permit electronic notification with respect to certain lease terminations by members of the uniformed services. Currently, electronic notifications to terminate rental/lease contracts of homes are not permitted for military families, who move or deploy frequently. This bill would make that process more efficient by allowing the servicemember to provide electronic notification to the vehicle lender or landlord. Our servicemembers are often asked to uproot their lives and their families from one location to another in defense of our nation, and sometimes at a moment’s notice. This important legislation would make that process easier for our military families by removing an unnecessary and burdensome step. I have met many military families during my time in Congress who will benefit from this legislation. I will continue to advocate for legislation like this bill, which keeps our servicemembers and their families in mind while they make sacrifices for our country. Read more here


County Public Health Resources

Clinton County: (518) 565-4840
Essex County: (518) 873-3514
Franklin County: (518) 481-1709
Fulton County: (518) 736-5720
Hamilton County: (518) 648-6497
Herkimer County: (315) 867-1176
Jefferson County: (315) 785-3000
Lewis County: (315) 376-5453
Saratoga County: (518) 584-7460
St. Lawrence County: (315) 386-2325
Warren County: (518) 761-6580
Washington County: (518) 746-2500


Statement on USCIS Announcement Delaying Furloughs

Last week, I released the below statement following the news that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will be delaying the announced furloughs until the end of August. Earlier this year USCIS announced that a budget shortfall due to the coronavirus pandemic would require the agency to furlough over 13,000 employees beginning August 3rd.

Since my first term in Congress, I have always worked against furloughing federal employees and government shutdowns. I support the USCIS’ decision to delay the furloughs until the end of August, and I am cosponsoring a bill to deliver emergency appropriations so the furloughs can be fully avoided. I urge House Leadership to immediately take this bill under consideration so we can pass it before the end of August. Our federal Citizenship and Immigration Service employees do an important job, and their jobs must be protected – particularly during this financially turbulent time due to COVID-19. Read more here.

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