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News stories tagged with "congress"

Photo: David Sommerstein
Photo: David Sommerstein

Farmers ratchet up pressure for immigration reform

Prospects for comprehensive immigration reform are growing slim as Congress is running out of working days in 2013.

That's a huge concern for dairy farmers. Several thousand undocumented Latino immigrants are estimated to work on dairy farms in New York and Vermont. Farmers say they can't find local people to milk the cows reliably.  Go to full article
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, in Massena on Friday, Feb. 22, 2013. Photo: Natasha Haverty
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, in Massena on Friday, Feb. 22, 2013. Photo: Natasha Haverty

Gillibrand defends brownfield cleanup funding

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand was travelling across upstate on Monday touting a bill she says will make it easier to redevelop environmentally-contaminated properties known as brownfields. Her effort comes a few days after a House committee voted to cut funding for brownfield cleanup.  Go to full article
U.S. Rep. Bill Owens (D-Plattsburgh)
U.S. Rep. Bill Owens (D-Plattsburgh)

Owens: rural America losing clout in farm policy

Lawmakers and agricultural leaders are searching for a way forward after the Farm Bill went down in flames in the House last week.

Many Republicans bristled at the nearly $100 billion a year price tag. About 80 percent of that is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP -- better known as Food Stamps. Some Democrats voted no to protest of cuts to that program. In the end, the farm bill went down by a significant margin, even though GOP House Speaker John Boehner voted for it.

It's unclear if the House will take up the Senate's version - which passed earlier this month - or seek to extend the 2008 farm bill for another year.  Go to full article
Juan Carlos (left) lives in a converted farm office in the barn of this dairy farm. He and Freddy want to be able to go home and come back to work on dairy farms here. Photo: David Sommerstein
Juan Carlos (left) lives in a converted farm office in the barn of this dairy farm. He and Freddy want to be able to go home and come back to work on dairy farms here. Photo: David Sommerstein

What undocumented dairy workers think of immigration reform

Dairy farmers - and their workers - have a lot at stake in the immigration debate underway in Washington.

A survey by Cornell University found that 2,600 Spanish-speaking people work on New York dairy farms. Of them, two thirds or more are here illegally. That's in part because there's no visa program for the kind of year-round workers dairy farms need.

The Senate's reform plan offers dairy farms new options for a legal supply of immigrant labor.

Undocumented Latino workers are scattered on bunches of dairy farms in the North Country. David Sommerstein spoke with some of them to see what they think of immigration reform.  Go to full article
U.S. Rep. Bill Owens
U.S. Rep. Bill Owens

Owens seeks compromise on farm bill

This week the Senate passed a five-year, nearly $500 billion farm bill. About three-quarters of that pays for the food stamp program, which would be cut by $400 million a year. Direct farm subsidies are largely replaced by subsidies for crop insurance. And there are a barrelfull of other items from land conservation to support for young farmers.

This is pretty much where things stood a year ago. But House Speaker John Boehner refused to let his chamber's version of the farm bill come to the floor for a vote. Conservative Republicans believed the bill contained too much government spending.  Go to full article
US Treasury building. Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/geetarchurchy/5069177460/">Matt Churchill</a>, Creative Commons, Some Rights Reserved
US Treasury building. Photo: Matt Churchill, Creative Commons, Some Rights Reserved

Why US Rep. Bill Owens is returning $75,000 to US Treasury

North Country congressman Bill Owens says he's returning roughly $75,000 of his congressional office budget to the US treasury.

Owens has made the gesture toward austerity four years in a row -- with the amount left unspent by his office now totaling around $400,000.  Go to full article
A sapbucket at Newton's Sugarbush. One of the bills US Rep. Owens is introducing would make it easier for producers to tape trees on some state and conservation lands in the Adirondacks. Photo: Todd Moe
A sapbucket at Newton's Sugarbush. One of the bills US Rep. Owens is introducing would make it easier for producers to tape trees on some state and conservation lands in the Adirondacks. Photo: Todd Moe

Owens gets ahead of curve on farm bill

Washington failed to pass a Farm Bill last year. Congressman Bill Owens says he's "cautiously optimistic" one will pass this year. But he's not sure exactly what will be in the massive $100 billion a year legislation that funds everything from farm programs to food stamps.

So the North Country Democrat is introducing three bills early that would help New York farmers.  Go to full article
Kirsten Gillibrand. Photo: Mark Kurtz
Kirsten Gillibrand. Photo: Mark Kurtz

Gillibrand: minimum wage should be even higher

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is making the case that New York's proposed minimum wage increase to $9 an hour is actually not enough. She is co-sponsoring a bill to raise the minimum wage nationwide to $10.10 an hour.  Go to full article
St. Regis Mohawk tribal government building in Akwesasne. Photo: David Sommerstein.
St. Regis Mohawk tribal government building in Akwesasne. Photo: David Sommerstein.

How the sequester could affect Mohawk health care

The effects of across the board federal spending cuts - known as the sequester - are still being sorted out. Mohawks in Akwesasne are bracing for cuts to health care and law enforcement.  Go to full article
Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Cuomo furious about Sandy aid

A new Congress will be sworn in today in Washingon, D.C., and one of the first pieces of legislation the House plans to vote on tomorrow is aid for Superstorm Sandy victims. House Speaker John Boehner had scrapped the vote earlier this week, but lawmakers from states where the superstorm struck blasted him for his decision.

Tomorrow's vote covers only 15 percent of the rescue package. The rest is set for a vote on Jan. 15. In Albany, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo lashed out at the Congress Wednesday for reneging on a promise to pass the Superstorm relief package late Tuesday night.  Go to full article

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