Congressman Antonio Delgado Newsletter
It’s been an eventful couple of weeks in Washington as well as back in the district, hitting a lot of core milestones as part of my commitment to accessibility and accountability, and being a voice for the priorities of Upstate New York in Congress.
This month, I held town halls in Schoharie County and Broome County, marking 11 town halls in just 11 weeks, one in each of the 11 counties that make up the 19th Congressional District. People coming together to ask questions of their representatives – that's the real work of democracy. The turnout at every one of these town halls shows a real thirst for a true, participatory democracy. Ensuring this happens is critically important to my work as your congressman.
As you may know, the House took a historic step toward fixing our broken political system by passing the government reform bill, H.R. 1. The bill’s passage was a culmination of years of people demanding that Congress reject the outsized influence of special interests and money in politics. When 80% of folks in this country are asked to share just 20% of the wealth, when 80% are asked to live paycheck to paycheck, and when an unlimited amount of money is allowed to influence our politics, only a few truly have access to their government officials as only a few have the means to do so – that’s an oligarchy, not a democracy. H.R. 1 changes that. I was very proud to be a leader on this bill, which included the CLEAR Act, a standalone bill I introduced earlier this year to shine a light on dark money in politics by requiring additional publicly available disclosures for lobbyists funding political ads or other political activities.
The Administration recently announced its Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 budget proposal and, unfortunately, I believe it doubles down on many of the harmful policies we’ve seen under this Administration. I think it's the wrong approach to continue tax breaks for the wealthy few at the expense of communities here at home in Upstate New York by calling for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and devastating cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid; the elimination of important rural development programs; and cuts to crop insurance. I'm also concerned that it makes severe cuts to education aid as well as critical environmental protections, and continues to balloon the deficit without investing in ways that provide real returns for everyday Americans in search of upward mobility and shared prosperity. I look forward to working with Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle to advocate for funding that supports rural communities like those in our district instead of leaving them behind.
Read on below to learn more about my legislative efforts over the last few weeks and see what we’re doing here at home across the district.
In addition to passing a historic government reform bill, the House also advanced critical legislation closing loopholes in our background checks system for firearms sales. As a father and someone who is deeply disturbed by the gun violence plaguing our country, I was proud to cosponsor and support passage of H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act, which would close existing loopholes that allow some firearms dealers to avoid running a background check before making a sale.
Additionally, in response to the President’s use of an emergency declaration to secure border wall funding not appropriated by Congress, I joined my colleagues in introducing H.J.Res. 46. This resolution would terminate the President’s declaration and uphold the separation of powers enshrined in the Constitution. My colleagues and I sent a clear message by passing this legislation on a bipartisan basis in the House—and I’m very glad that the Senate followed our lead.
I had the honor of welcoming folks from NY-19 to Washington to testify before two committees I sit on about issues important to our way of life in Upstate New York. John Mokszycki, Superintendent for the Water and Wastewater Department for the Town of Greenport, testified before the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee about the need for federal investment in rural water infrastructure. And recently, Bill Ingersoll from Sloansville in Schoharie County and owner of Bikes, Trikes and Quads testified before the Small Business Committee on rural entrepreneurship.
During the Agriculture Committee’s first hearing, I spoke with Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue about today’s rural economy. When asked how we can better support small family-owned farms like the ones in Upstate, I was alarmed by the Secretary’s response, that "The economy of scale of the dairy industry, from small dairy, is going to be extremely difficult going forward." He continued, "I don't think any of us would submit that we're compelled to keep anyone in business if it's not profitable." As a representative of thousands of small farms, I know that our local farms are a quintessential aspect of American life. That’s why I sent a letter inviting the Secretary to New York’s 19th Congressional District to hear directly from farmers whose livelihoods have been jeopardized by low prices, market consolidation, and a lack of access to local resources. Take a look at my letter to Secretary Perdue here.
In recent weeks I have joined my colleagues in helping to introduce several critical pieces of legislation:
- Restore Open Internet: Save the Internet Act, bicameral legislation to restore net neutrality protections that were repealed last year.
- Protect Dreamers and TPS Holders: Dream and Promise Act of 2019, legislation to create a pathway to citizenship for eligible Dreamers who entered the U.S. under the age of 18 and secures permanent residency for people with TPS.
- End LGBTQ Discrimination: Equality Act, legislation to amend key civil rights laws to explicitly ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
- Fight for Clean Water: WATER Act, bicameral legislation that establishes a trust fund to provide for robust funding for water and sewer infrastructure projects.
- End Forced Arbitration: Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal (FAIR) Act, to eliminate forced arbitration clauses in employment, consumer, and civil rights cases.
- Restore Federal Voter Protections: Voting Rights Advancement Act, legislation to restore key federal protections against state-level voter discrimination.
I was also glad to cosponsor the following key bills:
- National Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases Control Act, bipartisan legislation to establish a national comprehensive Lyme Disease strategy.
- Burn Pit Registry Enhancement Act, bipartisan legislation recently passed by the House to allow family members of deceased servicemembers and veterans to enter cause of death in the federal burn pit registry.
- Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Reauthorization Act of 2019, bipartisan legislation to reauthorize VAWA and continue providing resources to survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.
Holding town halls and meeting with constituents is critical because it gives me the opportunity to listen to folks, hear their concerns, and bring what I learn back to Washington with me.
The topics that I heard the most about at my town halls were supporting local economies, expanding opportunities for green jobs, lowering health care costs, and addressing water contamination. And one of the issues that came up at almost every town hall was agriculture and supporting our farmers. I’ve toured a number of family farms and met with small groups of farmers. Coming out of these events, I recently launched my 19th Congressional District Agriculture Advisory Committee.
|Rep. Delgado hears from Barb Hanselman about infrastructure needs of small farms.|
I’m looking forward to working with this group to prioritize small and mid-tier family-owned farms who are too often marginalized by Congress. The best ideas on how we can empower farmers don’t come from Washington but from those who actually live and breathe these issues every day in our district.
We can’t work through solutions to the challenges that family farms are facing without conversations like the ones I’ll be having with this Advisory Committee at the local level. I look forward to bringing their ideas back with me to Washington.
I’ve also prioritized taking time when I’m home to meet with as many folks as I can. I had the chance to speak with students at Rondout Valley High School in Accord to talk about the issues that impact young people in our communities. I’ve also met with environmental leaders, representatives from organizations across the district who are advocating for fair and accessible rural housing, and firefighters at the Central Bridge Fire Department in Schoharie County who discussed their needs for serving their community.
HIGHLIGHT: BRINGING DOWN PRESCRIPTION DRUG COSTS
Too many of my constituents, and too many Americans across this country, can’t afford the health coverage they need. There is no bigger driver of this problem than the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs. How is it that 1 in 5 American adults cannot afford the medicine they need?
Congress must act, and that’s why I recently took to the floor to urge my colleagues to take decisive action to bring down the price of prescription drugs. I’m proud to be a cosponsor of two bills that put consumers first – not drug companies – by empowering the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to negotiate the price of prescription drugs bought through Medicare.
In the wealthiest country in the world it’s inexcusable that we have seniors who have to choose between their prescriptions and buying groceries, cancer patients who can’t afford their drugs, and diabetics who need to ration the insulin they need to survive.
Watch my speech:
CONNECT WITH US
I hope you’ll connect with us soon. We’re always here to help, and you can get in touch with us in the following ways:
- Call 202-225-5614 or 845-443-2930
- Reach out online: Delgado.house.gov/contact/email-me
- Visit the Kingston Office at 256 Clinton Avenue (open 9 AM – 5 PM Monday through Friday), visit the Delhi Office at 111 Main Street (open 10 AM – 4 PM Tuesdays and Wednesdays), or visit the Oneonta Office at 189 Main Street #500 (open 10 AM – 4 PM Thursdays and Fridays).
- Come to one of my town halls or public events: Delgado.house.gov/about/events