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Central New York's Rep. Katko says goodbye to Congress from House floor

An outgoing Syracuse-area congressmember on Wednesday delivered his farewell remarks from the U.S. House floor.

Congressmember John Katko, a Republican whose district includes Onondaga County, said he was grateful to voters for his four terms in office.

"I rise today after eight years of service in gratitude for this body and the people of Central New York who have entrusted me to represent them in Congress since 2015," said Katko, who announced in January he would not seek re-election,

The speech comes a little more than two weeks after he reflected on his time in office at an event presented by Syracuse University. Katko said he aimed to bring a no-nonsense approach to Congress from his career as a federal prosecutor.

“I focused on unifying issues: Regularly introduced bills with Democratic cosponsors, broke with my own party when it was in the best interest of Central New York and America," he said.

Katko said this delivered results such as a bi-partisan infrastructure package, a historic investment for semiconductor manufacturing, as well as efforts to address the opioid epidemic and strengthen cyber security.

Katko was an active member of the Problem Solvers Caucus, which includes equal numbers Republicans and Democrats, but told his colleagues that he worries such bi-partisan efforts are more the exception than the rule.

“Congress is seemingly more divided than ever. Our inability to find common ground is making us less competitive on the world stage, less prosperous, and getting in the way of solving big problems. We were all sent here by our constituents to put the work in, to better our districts. When there’s only fights and no bipartisan cooperation, it’s our constituents who suffer. Please remember that.”    

Katko's district, known as the 24th, also covers Cayuga, Wayne and part of Oswego counties. But the boundaries changed during the decennial redistricting process that was finalized this year. The newly redrawn—and renamed—22nd Congressional District includes Onondaga, Madison, and Oneida counties.

Katko will be succeeded by Republican Brandon Williams, who defeated Democrat Francis Conole in November.

The first day of the next session of Congress is Jan. 3.

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at