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POLITICAL NOTEBOOK

Political Notebook: Stefanik votes yes and no on baby formula legislation

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U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, announced that she voted in support of legislation the House passed in response to the baby formula shortage.

But she voted, separately, against legislation to provide emergency funding.

The legislation Stefanik voted for requires baby formula manufacturers that supply the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, before receiving a WIC contract, to submit a plan that includes coordination with the federal Department of Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration, on how to protect WIC participants in the event of a supply chain disruption. It also would allow the U.S. secretary of agriculture to waive certain WIC program requirements during a supply chain disruption to help get formula back on the shelves.

About half of formula sales in the United States are through the WIC program, according to Stefanik’s office.

The legislation, HR 7791, passed the House by a vote of 414-9, with most Republicans voting in favor.

Stefanik voted against separate legislation to provide $28 million in additional emergency spending for the FDA to address the baby formula crisis, according to the Library of Congress government information website.

The legislation passed the House by a vote of 231-192, with just 12 Republicans voting in favor.

Rep. John Katko, R-Camillus, who is retiring at the end of the year, was the only New York House Republican that voted in favor of the legislation.

Democratic congressional candidate Matt Castelli criticized Stefanik for voting against the legislation.

“Despite days of what now appears to have been fake outrage over the very real baby formula shortage, yesterday Congresswoman Elise Stefanik voted against the Infant Formula Supplemental Appropriations Act … voting down funds to safely get formula back on the shelves and prevent the next shortage,” Castelli said in a statement.

Stefanik, and three other House Republicans, on Wednesday introduced alternative legislation to address the infant formula crisis.

“Just giving the Biden administration more money will not address the immediate crisis or correct how it makes these situations worse,” Stefanik said in a press release.

The proposed legislation would provide more flexibility in importing formula from other countries, and would temporarily lift restrictions on parents purchasing formula from other countries that have “similar safety standards” as the United States.

The legislation would require additional oversight of and accountability by the FDA, and would require the FDA to consider the impact on supply when implementing a recall for labeling issues not related with the quality of the product.

In other political news from the region:

UAW endorsement

Democratic congressional candidate Matt Castelli, on May 9, announced his first labor endorsement, coming from United Autoworkers Region 9, a labor union from outside the 21st Congressional District.

UAW Region 9 represents more than 4,000 employees in western and central New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania at plants that make auto and truck parts or build military helicopters, including the V-22 Osprey and Chinook.

Castelli, a former CIA counterterrorism official from the town of Saratoga, is one of two candidates seeking the Democratic nomination to challenge U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Schuylerville.

The other candidate is Matt Putorti, a lawyer from Whitehall.

BackRoads PAC

The BackRoads political action committee, which former local congressional candidate Tedra Cobb established to assist congressional candidates in rural areas, is attempting to reach new donors as its current donor base appears to be maxed out.

The PAC spent more on operating expenses in March that what it received in contributions, according to the most recent monthly finance report filed with the Federal Election Commission.

If the deficit continues at that rate, the PAC would be out of money by the end of September, just at the peak of the campaign season.

The PAC reported receiving $18,034 in contributions in March, and spending of $25,660 on operating expenses, including $18,579 to purchase computer database software from NGP Van Inc., a technology company that helps Democratic and progressive campaigns identify potential new donors.

Other operating expenses in March included $3,000 to Cobb, the PAC’s founder and director, for consulting, and $2,100 to Mauranda Stahl-Simmons for media and management consulting.

Cobb, a former St. County legislator, was the Democratic candidate in the 21st Congressional District who lost to incumbent Republican Elise Stefanik in 2020 and 2018.

In addition to operating expenses, the PAC contributed $1,000 to the campaign of Jackie Gordon, one of 10 candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for an open seat in the 1st Congressional District on Long Island, and $3,000 to the campaign of Josh Riley, who had been seeking the Democratic nomination in New York’s 22nd district, but switched to the 17th district this week after a court-appointed expert released new proposed congressional redistricting maps.

Campaign rally

Democratic congressional candidate Matt Castelli announced that he will hold a campaign rally at 1 p.m. Saturday at Hicks Orchard at 19 Hicks Road in Granville.

Castelli, a former CIA counterterrorism official from the town of Saratoga, is one of two candidates seeking the Democratic nomination to challenge U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Schuylerville.

The other Democratic candidate is Matt Putorti, a lawyer from Whitehall.

Maury Thompson covered local government and politics for The Post-Star for 21 years before he retired in 2017. He continues to follow regional politics as a freelance writer.

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