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As Trump Shutdown Halts Paychecks, Tonko Votes to Restore EPA Protections, Protect Families Receiving Food Assistance

Democratic efforts to restore government continue as more than 14,000 New York federal workers receive empty paychecks

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Washington, January 11, 2019 | comments
WASHINGTON – Today, on the 21st day of the historic Trump Shutdown and the first day when thousands of federal workers and their families will be denied a paycheck, Congressman Paul Tonko voted with fellow House Democrats to reopen several agencies including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This would allow EPA to resume its critical public health and environmental protection, including delivery of EPA grants to New York State that totaled more than $222 million in FY 2017. Tonko’s vote today also supported restoring full National Park staffing responsible for visitor and park protections and maintenance, and he has voted previously to reopen all agencies as well as to reopen the IRS and other individuals agencies separately. All efforts to-date have been blocked by the Republican-led Senate.

“For more than two weeks, the EPA has been prevented from its essential, life-saving mission of protecting the clean air and clean water our children and families need to live healthy lives,” said Tonko. “President Trump seems untroubled by the fact that he is endangering our public health and leaving our nation’s most treasured lands in danger, even as he continues to threaten to keep the government and its critical services closed for months or even years. This is terrible for New Yorkers as we live in a state that takes these issues seriously and has benefitted from significant federal support for our environmental, public health and public lands protection in the past. My Democratic colleagues and I are moving quickly to restore these vital protections and can only hope the President comes to his senses as the unnecessary harms caused by his shutdown continue to mount.”

This action follows on the heels of Tonko’s vote yesterday to reopen the U.S. Department of Agriculture and protect needed food assistance for 3,039,108 New Yorkers, more than half of whom are in families with children or are children themselves. That vote also went toward reopening FDA and USDA to restore food inspection services, prevent public health epidemics, and safeguard the essential safety net for New York farmers and rural communities.

“If the senseless Trump Shutdown continues, more than three million New Yorkers, more than half of whom are in families with children, are at risk of going hungry,” Tonko added. “This shutdown adds insult to injury, jeopardizing the ability of farmers and growers to grow and provide the food necessary to feed our communities, and even threatening crucial investments in rural infrastructure and universal broadband. Again, the President doesn’t seem to care, threatening to keep the government and its critical food safety responsibilities shut down.”

On the first day of the 116th Congress, the new House Democratic majority took the first steps to restore certainty to people's lives by passing a complete funding package with Senate Republicans’ language to re-open government. Senate Republicans reversed course, refusing to bring the bill up for a vote. Democrats continue to take action to re-open all government agencies that are currently in shutdown by passing individual, bipartisan appropriations bills.

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