Rep. Paul Tonko says 118th Congress is off to a ‘disturbing start’

Rep. Paul Tonko says 118th Congress is off to a ‘disturbing start’

ALBANY – For the first time in 100 years, it took more than one ballot to elect the speaker of the House of Representatives. After a year of significant bipartisan gains, U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko believes the 15 rounds of voting and the overall messy start to the 118th U.S. Congress is a warning sign of more chaos to come.

“A powerful statement was made by the 117th Congress and now, after the opening of the 118th, which seemed to me to be surrounded by chaos, confusion and crisis … the stark contrast between the two sessions so far is very powerful,” the Amsterdam Democrat told reporters in his Albany office Saturday morning.

Tonko pointed to the American Rescue Plan, the CHIPS and Science Act and the Inflation Reduction Act as evidence of the success of last year’s legislative session, which he said was considered by many to be one of the most productive sessions of Congress. since 1965.

Now, Tonko worries how a House majority unable to elect a speaker will be able to tackle some of the country’s most pressing issues, such as reducing inflation, lowering the debt ceiling and addressing climate change and its impact on severe weather events such as extreme flooding. hit California in recent weeks.

“As we go forward, I think this will be an indicative session,” he said.

In New York, where the state saw its largest population decline in 2021, Tonko said the biggest promise for growth will be the state’s innovation economy. His hope is that the state will answer the call to become the nation’s one and only center for semiconductor manufacturing, a designation he believes will attract and retain a population of professionals.

When asked about calls for the resignation of Rep. George Santos, under fire for fabricating large parts of his resume, Tonko said the New York Republican had abused one of the most important components of the service in a capacity legislative at any level.

“The trust between the representative and the constituents of the representative is strong and fundamental, and once that trust is eroded, I don’t think you can serve in an effective capacity,” he said.

Tonko also commented on the Justice Department’s investigation into President Joe Biden following the discovery of additional classified documents found at his residence and former offices in Delaware, stating that the incident is unacceptable and that important documents should not be released. never put themselves in a situation where they “might fall into the wrong hands.”

However, he compared the situation to the September raid of former President Donald Trump’s residence at his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida, where FBI agents found a trove of classified documents. With leaked documents related to his Democratic counterpart Biden “being accepted and turned over to the National Archives within a day or so,” Tonko said the incident contrasts with the Trump administration’s “resistant efforts to secure those documents” and ” not answering a call.”

Tonko attacked House Republicans’ introduction of the bill HR 23 to rescind funds made available to the IRS through the Inflation Reduction Act that enabled the agency to crack down on large corporations and high-income individuals who cheat on their taxes. . The Congressional Budget Office estimated that passage of the legislation would increase the deficit by more than $114 billion over 10 years.

Overall, the congressman’s outlook after the first two weeks of the new legislative session is bleak. Tonko said House Democrats are focused on continuing to make progress on strengthening a clean energy innovation economy, lowering the cost of health care and making sure “the path forward is one of progress for the American public and for the community of American business”.

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