Freshman Congressman Bill Owens will have a seat at the table that decides major issues such as military policy and national security.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced Wednesday that Democrats have decided to appoint Owens, who represents Oswego County and the North Country, to the Armed Services Committee and to the Homeland Security Committee.
Owens will be in the same position as his predecessor, Republican Congressman John McHugh, to help protect Fort Drum near Watertown, the region’s economic superstar.
In a statement, Owens said, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Fort Drum is the largest employer in our district, and is critical to both our national security and our local economy. I will do everything in my power to maintain and strengthen Fort Drum as a Member of Congress, and as a member of the Armed Services Committee I will fight tirelessly for the base, the surrounding community and for our entire district, all who benefit from Fort Drum’s presence.Ã¢â‚¬Â
The seat on the Homeland Security Committee could also be good for Oswego County and its desire to develop the Port of Oswego, a pet project of Sen. Chuck Schumer.
Meantime, Owens’s opponent in the special election could be laying the foundation for a court challenge of the election results.
Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman posted a letter to supporters on his website, asking for donations “to ensure every vote is counted” and alleging that “ACORN, the unions and Democratic Party were scared, and that’s why they tampered with the ballots of voters in NY-23”.
Hoffman conceded defeat on election night as incomplete results showed him more than 5,000 votes behind Owens. But problems with tallying the vote in Oswego County caused the county Board of Elections to stop reporting results before all the ballots were counted that night. When the votes were counted, Owens’ lead fell from about 5,000 to about 3,000, with about 7,000 absentee ballots to be counted.
County officials said the problems were inadvertent, but Hoffman is claiming fraud. From his letter:
“Recent developments leave me to wonder who is scheming behind closed doors, twisting arms and stealing elections from the voters of NY-23.
I’m sure you are as dismayed as I am to learn of the mischief that took place in Oswego and neighboring counties. We know this would not be the first time for the ACORN faithful to tamper with democracy.”
Elections and political officials in Oswego and Jefferson counties told the Watertown Daily Times’ Jude Seymour that Hoffman’s claim was false, including Republicans:
George J. Williams, Oswego County Republican chairman, said Mr. Hoffman’s assertion Ã¢â‚¬Å“is not accurate.Ã¢â‚¬Â The chairman said he roamed the county on Election Day and saw no evidence of tampering.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We’re not going to take the blame because he didn’t hold his concession speech,Ã¢â‚¬Â Mr. Williams said.
The count of absentee ballots continues. Two more counties, Lewis and Essex, finished counting absentee ballots. Hoffman crept 132 votes closer, reports the Post-Standard.
It is virtually impossible for Hoffman to win from the absentee ballots alone. He has not ruled out a court challenge to force a full recount.
FULL TEXT OF OWENS’ ANNOUNCEMENT:
Congressman Owens Named to Armed Services, Homeland Security Committees
Washington, DC Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Today, Congressman Bill Owens was officially named a member of the Armed Services Committee as well as the House Committee on Homeland Security. In a letter sent to the House Steering Committee earlier this week, Owens reaffirmed the needs of Fort Drum and the surrounding community and touted his service as a Captain at Plattsburgh Air Force Base and his work to help form the Plattsburgh Airbase Redevelopment Corporation.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Fort Drum is the largest employer in our district, and is critical to both our national security and our local economyÃ¢â‚¬Â said Owens. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I will do everything in my power to maintain and strengthen Fort Drum as a Member of Congress, and as a member of the Armed Services Committee I will fight tirelessly for the base, the surrounding community and for our entire district, all who benefit from Fort DrumÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s presence.Ã¢â‚¬Â
The House Armed Services Committee is responsible for funding and oversight over the Department of Defense, as well as the various branches of the military. The Committee is also responsible for funding military installations.
Congressman Owens also announced his appointment to the House Committee on Homeland Security, which has jurisdiction over the development of the Department of Homeland Security. This includes issues ranging from border and port security to emergency preparedness and infrastructure protection.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Much of New YorkÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Twenty Third Congressional District shares a border with Canada that is vital to our local economy and job creation within the district,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Owens. Ã¢â‚¬Å“As someone with experience helping bring Canadian companies to Clinton County, I understand how important the border we share with our neighbors to the North means to our local economy. A seat on the Committee on Homeland Security will help us to utilize the border in a way that best benefits our community while protecting the safety and security of our citizens.Ã¢â‚¬Â
A significant portion of New YorkÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Twenty Third Congressional District shares a direct border with Canada. The district also includes the Port of Oswego and other infrastructure investments that often fall under the jurisdiction of the Homeland Security Committee.