Rural Democrats respond to Chris Lee's first week in office
We received the following statement, issued by the Genesee, Livingston, Wyoming and Orleans Democratic Committee Chairs.
The Democrats of the rural counties of New York's 26th Congressional District (Genesee, Livingston, Orleans, and Wyoming Counties, or the GLOW region,) congratulate Chris Lee on being sworn in to represent the district in the 111th Congress. While he is getting established in Washington, the GLOW county Democratic Committees note that Congressman Lee's plans to open offices in just Monroe and Erie Counties suggest there is a good chance that the rural areas of the district, which comprise a great deal of the 26th, may continue to be overlooked despite there being new representation in Congress.
Mr. Lee has issued a statement announcing that he has been named to the Financial Services Committee, the committee assignment he sought. Unfortunately, membership on that committee precludes his serving on any of the other important committees in Congress. (Most members of Congress sit on multiple committees, but members of the Financial Services Committee do not.) "What our communities really need is a representative on the Agriculture Committee, like the 29th District will have with Eric Massa," says Harold Bush, Chair of the Wyoming County Democratic Committee. The Genesee County Democratic Committee Chair, Lorie Longhany, says "I am concerned that Congressman Lee is in danger of simply perpetuating a long Washington tradition of being more interested in Wall Street than Main Street. The fact that two of his very first votes were against closing pay discrimination loopholes -- he voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fairness Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act -- makes me even more on my guard about his commitment to average people."
The other matter of great concern to the GLOW-region Democratic Committees is that Congressman Lee may not be supportive enough of passing the stimulus plan that is the first item on Congress' agenda. "He never talks about a recovery plan without worrying out loud about 'fiscal responsibility,'" says Phil Jones, Chair of the Livingston County Democratic Committee. "But 'fiscal responsibility' has become the Republican code phrase for obstructing what we really need in this district, which is jobs. The Republicans had plenty of chances to be fiscally responsible when they were in control of Congress and the economy wasn't in dire straits. But economic experts agree that temporary government spending is the only thing that can help turn around our economic situation." The Orleans County Democratic Chair, Jeanne Crane, notes that public investment in infrastructure and green energy projects could benefit the 26th district for years to come. "Smart public investments can lead to real, tangible assets for our community, assets that will attract jobs and growth. We hope Congressman Lee understands that and will support the kind of stimulus package we need."