Congressmen foresee cuts (but not to military contractors)
On the eve of Congress's return to Washington, two central New York congressman, from opposing parties, say they expect challenges to federal spending in the coming session.
Republican Congressman Tom Reed was swept into Eric Massa’s empty 29th District seat in November. Reed wasn't an "official" tea party candidate, but he did have support from the tea party movement.
Speaking by phone from Washington on Tuesday, Reed said he expected to see a new emphasis on cutting spending in the 112th Congress - and that new members like him should play a significant role.
"Right now all signs are positive that we are talking as a group, meeting as a group, and we are standing firm, together as a group," said Reed.
Reed doesn’t discount the possibility of a federal shutdown to balance the budget. His fellow House Republicans have committed to cutting $100 billion from domestic spending (or perhaps a little less), but have said the military will be spared.
That's important in the Southern Tier, where lots of industry centers around contractors and manufacturing. And the possibility that the military won't be cut has given some cause for hope to nine-term Democratic Congressman Maurice Hinchey.
Hinchey spoke with Lockheed Martin employees in Owego Tuesday, at the formal announcement of two new Navy helicopter contracts worth $249 million. He says he's still hopeful that federal dollars will be heading to the region for important projects.
"That may be an element of my personality, I don’t know, but nevertheless, I’ve feeling optimistic about it," Hinchey said.
Both sides also report being optimistic about working together. We'll see how that holds up next week as Congress takes up health care.