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Politics & Government

Reps Katko, Brindisi Reach Across Aisle on Many Needs They Agree Upon for CNY During Pandemic

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Central New York Congress members from opposite sides of the political aisle have a lot of similar ideas about how to help the country deal with the ongoing COVID pandemic.  Democrat Anthony Brindisi and Republican John Katko are both concerned about the financial troubles cities are in.  Brindisi says local communities have struggled because of how long things have been shut down.

“Given the early days of the pandemic and New York really being at the heart of that, our local governments are seeing declining revenue because of declining sales tax, decline in hotel occupancy taxes and drops in other revenues, are going to be forced to make some very tough decisions, cuts in public safety; it’s going to lead to cuts in health care, education and infrastructure.”

Katko agrees the next package of aid from Washington needs to address the problem directly.

“Smaller towns and cities like Anthony’s and mine, Syracuse, Utica and Binghamton, they didn’t get direct aid in the CARES package.  That went directly to states and the state was supposed to trickle down to us (localities).  Well, the Governor is not doing it.  And there’s no sign he’s going to share any of that money that came to the state.  So, we’re both advocating in this package that municipalities of less than 500,00 get money directly from us (Congress).” 

Both representatives also agree that aid to small businesses and another round of assistance directly to families should be part of a next aid package.  They similarly both criticized Senate leader Mitch McConnell for opposing municipal aid.  And they can both see a role for the region to play in solving shortages for testing or protective equipment.  Katko highlights one bright spot.

“I’ll give you one great example in my district, Tessy Plastics, great corporate citizen.  They took one of their buildings in Auburn, which is a very big facility, and have converted it to a test production facility, teaming up with a pharmaceutical.  And by August, they’re on schedule to start producing a million tests-a-month.”  

Brindisi adds there are more local companies helping as well … of which he’d like to see Washington take note.

“We know in Upstate New York, which has a very proud manufacturing tradition, that we can make this stuff here.  And whether it’s Department of Defense; I’m on the Armed Services committee, or whether it’s Homeland Security, John is a member, NIH or other federal agencies, they have to go out and procure this stuff, whether it’s PPE or ventilators or other medical supplies that are deemed essential during a national emergency.  And our federal government should take note of that and start spending those tax dollars here in this country, supporting American manufacturing and American workers.” 

Katko says he’s optimistic Congress will agree on another stimulus bill soon.  Brindisi adds during crises, such as floods, wild fires, or other problems, the nation comes together and avoids partisanship.