Congressman Bill Owens today released the following statement on Senator Jim Bunning's (R-KY) continuing hold of Senate legislation authorizing federal highway programs that would begin Crown Point Bridge construction and extend unemployment benefits to Upstate New Yorkers.
"This is exactly what is wrong with Washington. As one Senator puts partisan politics before the interests of hard-working families, many in the North Country are worried about paying their bills and putting food on the table. As our unemployed continue to look for jobs, they need their representatives in Washington to work for -- not against -- them.
"Because of Senator Bunning, Federal Highway Administration employees are not at work and are not able to approve the paperwork for Crown Point Bridge construction. Area residents and businesses have been seriously impacted by the bridges closure and we must not delay the rebuilding process.
"Washington should be focused on moving legislation forward that creates jobs and cuts taxes for our small business community, not partisan politics."
Last Thursday, the House unanimously passed emergency legislation to extend a range of programs that expired midnight Sunday, February 28th. Programs included in this package and now being suspended by Senator Bunning are:
* Unemployment benefits;
* Help with health insurance for the unemployed (COBRA);
* Satellite TV access, which puts at risk the ability of people to watch the programs of their choice;
* Surface transportation programs including highway and bridge funding and other critical state transportation projects thereby putting hundreds of transportation jobs at risk;
* Delay in the cut to Medicare physician payments, thereby putting seniors access to doctors at risk;
* Flood insurance; and
* Small business loan guarantees.
This emergency 30-day extension passed by the House last week is critical to North Country families in need of help during the economic downturn, and these provisions have now expired.