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September 19, 2018

New Congressman Owens’ Vote Crucial As Health Care Reform Passes House Narrowly


Rep. Bill Owens (D-NY) addresses members of the House of Representatives after being sworn in.

Rep. Bill Owens (D-NY) addresses members of the House of Representatives after being sworn in.

Bill Owens’ election last week made a difference by the weekend.

A package of reforms aimed at improving health care coverage for Americans passed the House of Representatives by just 5 votes, 220-215.  Owens cast one of those votes to approve the legislation.

“This legislation will reform the insurance industry and provide increased access to affordable healthcare without taxing healthcare benefits, cutting Medicare benefits or raising taxes on the middle class, and that is exactly the direction we need to go,” Owens said in a statement. “There are still changes I would like to make, including raising the payroll exemption for small businesses, but like I said last week, there is a fundamental need for reform and we must act with a sense of urgency. This plan will reign in costs, strengthen the middle class and protect our economy from additional debt down the road.”

He cast his vote just a day after being sworn in as Oswego County’s representative in Congress from the 23rd Congressional District.

“I am proud to begin a new chapter of service to my country and remain hopeful that if we continue seeking out bipartisan solutions to the problems that face us, we can build a brighter future for our children and grandchildren,” Owens said on the floor of the House after being sworn in. “I pledge to work hard each and every day that I am honored to serve to see this come to light.”

Owens, an independent who ran as a Democrat, won a three-way contest that became a national battle for control of the Republican party.  Party nominee Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava of Gouverneur, who represents the northernmost towns in Oswego County, was lambasted by conservatives for supporting abortion, gay marriage and the President’s stimulus package.

The Conservative Party ran Doug Hoffman.  He attracted millions in outside interest group money and eventually overtook Scozzafava in polls.  She quit the race the weekend before the election, and, after enduring another round of criticism from conservatives, gave her backing to Owens.

Full statement from Bill Owens, delivered at his swearing-in ceremony in the House of Representatives:

“Madam Speaker,

“I am honored to be here with you all today, and to join you in our continuing effort to build a better, stronger America. This is a proud day for me and my family but it is also a sad day for our country. The shooting at Fort Hood last night that claimed the lives of 13 fine Americans is a stunning reminder of how quickly the peace we enjoy here at home can turn to violence, and how heavily we rely on our brave men and women to keep us free from harm. My thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims, and with our soldiers to whom we owe our safety and our freedom.

“I’d like to thank my family for being with me, and for standing behind me every step of the way. To my wife, Jane, my three children, Jenna, Tara and Brendan, and my three grandchildren Caroline, Tommy and Tess, I know that I could never have made it without you, and I am grateful for your support and for all the laughs we had along the way.

“I also want to thank the people of New York’s Twenty Third Congressional District, whose work I begin today. Conscious of the challenges that face us, I am eager to join my colleagues in finding bipartisan solutions to health care, energy, our farm crisis and our struggling economy.

“My family and I came to Plattsburgh when I transferred to Plattsburgh Air Force Base. When I left the Air Force, we decided to stay and make our home in Upstate New York but I remained committed to serving my country and my community. That’s what I have tried to do throughout my life in Upstate New York, and is the reason I ran for Congress.

“I am proud to begin a new chapter of service to my country and remain hopeful that if we continue seeking out bipartisan solutions to the problems that face us, we can build a brighter future for our children and grandchildren. I pledge to work hard each and every day that I am honored to serve to see this come to light.

“Thank you”

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