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Katko and Boehner protesters say not enough is being done in Congress

Tom Magnarelli
Protesters in downtown Syracuse.

Republican House Speaker John Boehner traveled across upstate New York on Thursday, attending private golf fundraisers for upstate Republicans in Congress. About a dozen protesters came to downtown Syracuse to voice their disapproval with Boehner, Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) and legislation left on the table while Congress is away on August recess.


This year, the House of Representatives passed four bills sponsored by Katko including some to improve airport security.


But protesters in downtown Syracuse say time is running out on other big issues. There is no long-term bill that can pay for the Highway Trust Fund, which Katko said he would support. Congress let the Export-Import Bank charter expire, an agency Katko also said he would support.


There are threats of a government shutdown because of stalled spending negotiations and calls to defund Planned Parenthood which worries Bill Spreter, one of the protesters and a co-director of the New York State Alliance for Retired Americans.


“It seems that any issue that comes up, this Congress under Boehner, and Cruz want to shutdown government," Spreter said. "If they want to do that again for any issue that they deem inappropriate, we're not going to have a government.”


The House has been passing spending bills that adhere to strict limits known as sequestration, which was signed into law in 2011. For the past two years, a deal was made to lift those caps but that expires at the end of September. Senate Democrats have blocked the bills from coming to the floor for a vote and the president says he would veto them.


Diane Dwire, a former Onondaga County Democratic chairwoman said Katko and Boehner should not be fundraising and on recess with so much left to do.


“They did not pass the budget, to avoid the Republican government shutdown," Dwire said. "We know how well that went several years ago and how much it cost the American people.”


About $24 billion in 2013 according to the financial ratings agency Standard and Poor's. A spokesperson for Katko said he is against a government shutdown. Dwire also spoke about the Highway Trust Fund.


“They did not pass a long term Highway Trust Fund that invests in our roads and bridges which creates safer driving conditions for the American people everyday and to help our hardworking families reduce the costs of car repairs and maintenance costs,” Dwire said.  


Congress will reconvene in September. 

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.