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Katko: Pelosi played politics, got less in relief package

Congressman John Katko Facebook
Katko at the Cayuga County Vietnam veterans memorial ceremony in September.

Syracuse-area Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) said there are a lot of items for central New York in the $900 billion COVID relief package passed in Washington this week.

The legislation includes the extension of the Paycheck Protection Program, enhanced jobless benefits and direct payments to millions of Americans. Katko said those items offer long overdue relief to families suffering during the pandemic.

“I firmly believe we saved a lot of small businesses, and maybe just maybe, gave a lot of our constituents a little more hope this holiday season,” Katko said.

The big thing that is missing is aid to state and local governments. Katko said there is funding headed to local governments; millions of dollars earmarked for things like vaccination and testing reimbursements, and funding for health and transportation departments.

"There’s a lot of good wins in here for them,” Katko said. “Sure, they’re disappointed to some extent, but they’re glad and thankful for what they got as well.”

And Katko expects the issue to come up again in the new Congress. He said it’s at the crux of any negotiations on another relief bill.

"The two outlying issues are state and local aid and liability limitation protection,” Katko said. “And people are going to compromise to get that done. I’m ready to do that and a lot of my colleagues are as well.”

Katko, a Republican who heads back to Washington for his fourth term in the House next month, said there is one thing that disappointed him.

"It’s clear to me looking back on it, Speaker Pelosi didn’t want to give President Trump any sort of credit or win before the election, so she kept moving the goalposts on negotiations with us and the White House,” Katko said. “And she got less because of it. That’s unfortunate that the American people got caught in the crosshairs.”

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.