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News stories tagged with "washington"

Students order up pizza at AA Kingston Middle School in Potsdam. Photo: Julie Grant
Students order up pizza at AA Kingston Middle School in Potsdam. Photo: Julie Grant

USDA revises school lunch rules

The federal government is easing its new rules for school lunches. In a letter to members of Congress Friday, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the USDA would remove calorie limits on grains and meats in schools.

At the same time, Vilsack defended the program put in place last fall. He wrote it's ensuring twice the amount of fruits and vegetables in school lunches, and a "substantial" increase in the use of whole grains.  Go to full article

What's out - and what's next - for the farm bill

Yesterday when you woke up, you may not have felt different. But farm country did. The federal farm bill expired because Congress wasn't able to pass a new one by the September 30th deadline.

The farm bill is huge. It funds everything from food stamps to wetlands restoration to school nutrition - in addition to helping to pay for commodities like corn, soybeans, milk, and cheese.

So now that there's no farm bill, it's hard to know what's changed. David Sommerstein joins us to sort through it all.  Go to full article

Plenty at stake in farm bill standoff

UPDATE: Thursday afternoon, the Wall Street Journal reports House Speaker John Boehner has officially confirmed that the farm bill won't be taken up until after the November elections.

North Country farmers are anxiously watching the status of the new farm bill in the House of Representatives. The current farm bill expires on September 30. The Senate passed a new five-year, $497 billion farm bill over the summer. But House leadership has yet to let its version come to the floor for a vote. "Tea Party" Republicans want to see much deeper cuts in the biggest item in the bill -- the federal food stamp program.

So what if the Farm Bill isn't passed by the end of the month? How would that affect North Country agriculture?  Go to full article
There’s no Democratic or Republican way to shovel the mud out of the house.

Cuomo blasts federal government on "partisan bickering" post-Irene

Governor Andrew Cuomo last week issued his strongest comments yet over whether the federal government should spend the money to help victims of Hurricane Irene. Karen DeWitt has more:  Go to full article

Congressman Owens: Debt ceiling vote "imperfect", but better than default

Congress passed legislation this week allowing the U.S. to raise its debt ceiling, avoiding an unprecedented default. The bill quickly passed the Senate, and President Obama signed it into law Tuesday afternoon.

North Country Representative Bill Owens voted in favor of the bill, but called the process "unnecessarily ugly."

The last-minute measure passed both the House and the Senate with healthy bipartisan support. In addition to raising the federal debt limit, the legislation promises some $2 trillion in budget cuts over the next 10 years. Chris Morris spoke with Owens, who says the bill protects Social Security and Medicare.  Go to full article
High-speed Internet in St. Lawrence and Franklin Counties, according to New York state
High-speed Internet in St. Lawrence and Franklin Counties, according to New York state

U.S. House cuts could stop expansion of rural broadband Internet

The annual Agriculture Appropriations Act passed by the U.S. House last week made sweeping cuts to programs ranging from infant nutrition to genetically engineered salmon.

Thanks to an amendment sponsored by Rep. Bill Owens, it still includes some funding for expansion of broadband Internet to rural areas. The Owens amendment saved $6 million.

That's still a significant cut from the original $22 million and even the reduced allocation is subject to approval by the U.S. Senate.

Either way, many rural residents will be left with the much slower dial-up Internet.

Slic Network Solutions is a Potsdam-based Internet provider. The Company has been using funding from last year's appropriations bill to expand high-speed access along dozens of rural North Country roads. That money isn't affected by the latest cuts.

Slic's President, Phil Wagschal, told Steve Knight that's OK for now, but in the long-term, more government help is vital.  Go to full article

Owens attacks Medicare privatization

North Country Congressman Bill Owens lashed out at Republicans' plan to reduce the federal deficit while backing President Obama's. Speaking in a telephone town hall meeting Thursday, the Democrat from Plattsburgh attacked House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan's deficit reduction plan. Martha Foley reports.  Go to full article
Rep. Scott Murphy (D-Glens Falls)
Rep. Scott Murphy (D-Glens Falls)

After meeting with Obama, Rep. Murphy still on fence over health bill

The Washington Post says North Country congressman Scott Murphy is one of the five lawmakers in the country receiving the most pressure on this week's landmark healthcare vote. The Democrat from Glens Falls met one-one-one with President Barack Obama to talk about the bill. The liberal group is running ads in his district, urging the Glens Falls Democrat to vote Yes. The conservative US Chamber of Commerce is also buying TV spots, urging Murphy to vote no. Health care expected to be a central issue in this year's election in the 20th district. Murphy spoke yesterday with Brian Mann about the landmark decision and explained why he's still on the fence, despite months of debate.  Go to full article

McHugh attaches strings to Iraq funding

The Bush Administration has asked Congress for more than $90 billion to continue fighting the war in Iraq this year. North Country Congressman John McHugh says he's not willing to give it without strings attached. McHugh has introduced a bill that would authorize half of the President's request, and then assess how well the Iraqi government and U.S. military are using the money. The Iraqi Government Accountability Act establishes six benchmarks, which include securing Baghdad, disarming militias, and providing for economic development. McHugh spoke with David Sommerstein yesterday.  Go to full article

Bush to nominate new Seaway chief

President Bush will nominate a college roommate and political ally to run the St. Lawrence Seaway. The White House announced Tuesday that Collister Johnson, Jr. will be nominated to serve a seven-year term. David Sommerstein reports.  Go to full article

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