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U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Willsboro, characterized the Keystone XL Pipeline Act, which she voted in favor of on Friday, as “probably the biggest national issue” she voted on in her first week in Congress.

The legislation approves TransCanada’s application to construct the pipeline.

“Congressman Owens (D-Plattsburg, who retired at the end of 2014) voted in support of it in the last Congress. I joined him in support of that,” she said in a telephone interview on Friday.

Stefanik, who took office on Tuesday, said she also voted in favor of two other bills:

* Hire More Heroes Act -- “It basically allows businesses to help our veterans get back to work by exempting them from being counted as full-time workers under ObamaCare’s employer mandate.”

* Save American Workers Act, which addresses the criteria for calculating the “employer mandate” that all businesses with 50 or more full-time equivalent employees provide health insurance to at least 95% of their full-time employees and dependents up to age 26, or pay a fee. --

“It defines a full-time employee as one who is employed on average at least 40 hours of service per week rather than 30. And the number of full-time equivalent employees per month is determined by dividing the aggregate number of hours of service for not full-time employees for the month by 174 rather than 120.”

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