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LIVINGSTON MANOR, NY — Congressman Antonio Delgado continued to make good on a campaign pledge February 2, when he held a town hall-style meeting at the high school gymnasium in Livingston Manor. This is his third town hall this year where constituents could ask whatever questions they wanted, a stark contrast to former Congressman John Faso, who held limited meetings with constituents, and required that questions be cleared in advance.
In response to a question about the recent partial federal government shutdown, Delgado said it negatively impacted some 4,000 federal workers in the New York 19th Congressional District, as well as farmers and small businesses. On January 30, Delgado addressed the issue on the floor of the U.S. House and urged that his colleagues prevent another partial shutdown of the government when the current funding agreement ends on February 15.
During his remarks in Washington D.C., he was critical of the wall on the Mexican border sought by President Donald Trump. “The border wall is a monument to division that, according to experts, is ineffective and wasteful. Holding the government hostage over it was wrong,” he said. “Indeed, not a single member of the House body, Democrat or Republican, representing a border district, is for the construction of a wall.”
At the town hall meeting a constituent asked Delgado about reaction to the emergence of a “New Green Deal” in pursuing renewable energy. “What’s happened in the last few months is the concept [of creating a green economy] has morphed into a more concrete and yet still unclear concept,” Delgado replied. “I think it’s important that we should have a select committee regarding a New Green Deal, then do the work to figure out what concrete steps must we take to bring down carbon emissions, to incentivize investment in renewable energy and transition away from fossil fuels, and what concrete steps must we take to make sure that that transition accounts for the impact that it’s going to have for the individuals who work in the fossil fuel industry.”
In reaction to a question where a constituent raised the issue of the Me Too movement, Delgado addressed hateful rhetoric. “We’ve reached a point in this country, whether it’s racism, it’s misogyny, it’s xenophobia, it is percolating at a very intense level, and very negative themes are being amplified by leaders,” he said. “And rather than figure out how we can lead into shared values and principals… so much of the rhetoric now is hateful.”
He said hateful rhetoric has reached a crescendo now because of economic inequality. “A lot of people—irrespective of race, gender, religion—they’re in bad spots. One in three kids in Sullivan County is growing up poor,” he said. “That’s pain, that’s poverty. So, if you have power, if you’re the beneficiary of this level of inequality, when you’re amongst the most wealthy and you don’t necessarily have a desire to change the status quo, well, one strategy to keep things as they are, is to pit those who are hurting against each other, to highlight the differences in hopes that they’re distracted because of those differences, rather than seeing that they’re sharing the same pain.”
Also during the meeting Delgado touched on the issue of pollution and clear drinking water as it relates to Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and related chemicals that have contaminated drinking municipal water supplies in Hoosic Falls and Petersburgh. A report from Politico (http://bit.ly/EPATRR) showed that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will not establish standards for how much contamination from those chemicals is safe in drinking water. Without such standards, according to the article, “the chemicals will remain unregulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act.”
In a press release on that issue Delgado said, “I have talked to families who lost loved ones from cancer caused by contaminated drinking water. In light of the emerging evidence on the danger and devastation PFOA causes, it would be unconscionable for the EPA to not limit levels of these chemicals in our communities. The EPA must take the issue of water contamination seriously, and I will do everything in my power to step up efforts to address this growing crisis.”
He reiterated his commitment to that position and to protecting the environment during the town hall in Livingston Manor.