GLENS FALLS — As Congress returned to session on Thursday, local residents called for a quick end to the partial government shutdown.
Donald Jahne of Cambridge said his son was in the process of obtaining a job funded through an EPA grant. But that is in limbo because of the shutdown.
“It makes the whole thing personal. It’s not so abstract. Real people are being affected by it,” he said.
Jahne was one of about 25 people who protested on Thursday outside U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik’s downtown Glens Falls office, calling on her to support bills to end the government shutdown, adopt a system of public campaign financing and enact tighter ethics rules.
The event, called “Who’s House? Our House” was sponsored by members of Saratoga Progressive Action and Indivisible chapters.
Activist Joe Seeman of Ballston Spa said the 800,000 government workers not getting paid need to receive their paychecks.
“The only reason is Mr. Trump’s insistence on building this racist, boondoggle, $5 billion wall that we don’t need.
We need to build bridges, our roads fixed. We don’t need a wall,” he said.
The protesters called on Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, to live up to her statements about being one of the most bipartisan members of Congress by voting in favor of this bill.
Democrats took control of the House of Representatives on Thursday and voted in Nancy Pelosi as speaker.
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The Democratic majority was expected to take up bills to fund government operations.
Stefanik has said she does not support government shutdowns, which is why she voted for earlier legislation that funded government operations and included $5 billion for a border wall.
Her office did not immediately respond to an inquiry about how she would vote on the Democratic-backed bills.
At Thursday’s protest, Patrick Nelson, who ran for Congress last year, criticized Republicans in Congress for being willing to spend $5.7 billion for a border wall, but not funding other priorities, such as paying benefits to all veterans exposed to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War.
Bernice Mennis of Fort Ann said a wall sends the wrong message.
“We should go back to the Statue of Liberty and being a welcoming country,” she said. “They are good people who want asylum.”
The activists were also calling on Stefanik to support the Democracy Reform bill, H.R. 1, which would institute a series of reforms to make it easier to vote and run for office. The bill would allow for automatic voter registration and create a system of public campaign financing where contributions of $100 would be matched with $600 of public financing. Advocates believe that would limit the influence of big money in elections.
The bill would also toughen financial disclosure requirements to prohibit conflicts of interest and self-dealing.
Stefanik's Communications Director emailed a statement on her behalf saying, "The Congresswoman doesn’t typically disclose her votes beforehand, but we will have her vote and an explanation on her Facebook page soon after the vote."