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Rep. Bill Owens at the legislative luncheon in Saranac Lake. NCPR file photo: Mark Kurtz
Rep. Bill Owens at the legislative luncheon in Saranac Lake. NCPR file photo: Mark Kurtz

Owens fears immigration bill collapse

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Last month, a sweeping new farm bill was approved by the US Senate. But the bill collapsed in the House after conservative Republicans introduced deep cuts to Federal food stamp programs.

Now Congressman Bill Owens says he worries that political pressure from the right and tea party groups could stall immigration reform. The Democrat from Plattsburgh says the immigration bill is needed to help dairy farmers who face a serious labor shortage in the North Country.

Brian Mann caught up with Owens last week while he was touring a farm in Clinton County.

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Brian Mann
Adirondack Bureau Chief

I think there's going to be tremendous opposition from the extreme right in the House to getting immigration reform passed in any form. - Rep. Bill Owens (D-Plattsburgh)
They spoke in-depth about the farm bill and immigration reform.  They also talked about the future of Fort Drum, which is slated to lose roughly 1400 soldiers as part of national cuts to the Army's uniformed personnel. 

"Drum was cut about 9 percent.  The average was about 14 percent.  So I think we fit in a good spot.  This was a range we anticipated," Owens said.

Rep. Chellie Pingree of ME and Rep. Bill Owens of NY at the US Farm Bill hearing in Saranac Lake in 2012. NCPR file photo: Julie Grant
Rep. Chellie Pingree of ME and Rep. Bill Owens of NY at the US Farm Bill hearing in Saranac Lake in 2012. NCPR file photo: Julie Grant
However, he expressed continuing concern about automatic budget cuts under sequestration next year.  "That is clearly the big unknown at this juncture, because it will have an effect.  I think it will be across the board and I think we need to find a solution."

 

 

 

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