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Katko says congressional committee assignments will have local impacts

Ellen Abbott
Rep.elect John Katko works out of his temporary office in Syracuse. (file photo)

Syracuse-area Rep.-elect John Katko’s congressional committee assignments will put him in a place to see a lot of action as the 114th Congress opens in January.

Katko got the assignments he wanted on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Homeland Security Committee. There will be a lot going on in the area of transportation, as the highway bill and the Federal Aviation Administration bill will expire soon. He will also be involved in discussions over the reconstruction of Interstate 81 through Syracuse.

“The highway bill is up this year, and we need to fix that," Katko said. "We need to fix that fund and that’s going to deal with bridges and roads, and those are the types of things we need a dramatic amount of help with our district. And the FAA bill is up this year and that may impact us with how the airport shakes out in Syracuse. So two very big bills, and of course the Interstate 81 project which is the biggest civil engineering project in the history of our district.”

The Homeland Security Committee post puts him in the midst of the immigration debate because the department is only funded through February, and House leaders expect to use that as a base for debate over the president's recent executive decisions on the issue.  

“In the last 16 years, the federal prosecutor's office here in Syracuse prosecuted on a routine basis alien smuggling cases coming across the border from Canada, and some serious players at times," Katko explained. "So even though they’re our friends, there are some pretty serious border security issues we need to deal with, and I’m hoping to bring some light to that on the committee.”

Katko has also been assigned to the Homeland Security Committee's Counterterrorism and Intelligence Subcommittee, putting him at ground zero in the fight against terror.

“Everyone that’s on the Counterterrorism Subcommittee doesn’t sleep well at night worrying about this country," Katko said. "Because a lot more is going on behind the scenes than people realize. There have been a lot more terror attacks foiled in this country than people can fathom. They’ve done a phenomenal job and have to continue to do that.”

Katko has had experience in immigration and border security during his tenure as a federal prosecutor in the U.S. Justice Department, where he worked in Puerto Rico and Texas, along with Syracuse.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.