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Stefanik makes headway in first month in office

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Stefanik one month

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., on left, and Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Willsboro, speak Wednesday at the national launch of All In Together at Google headquarters in Washington. The nonpartisan organization encourages women to become involved in public policy.

It didn’t take long for new U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Willsboro, to experience the joy of legislative success.

The House on Tuesday passed human trafficking legislation that Stefanik co-sponsored just 13 days earlier.

“I think it shows that I intend to be a very productive member of Congress,” Stefanik said Saturday in a telephone interview about her first month in office.

The legislation — H.R. 350 — would establish a federal government interagency task force to identify strategies to prevent children from becoming victims of trafficking and to improve efforts to recover human trafficking victims, according to the Library of Congress government information website.

The task force will recommend ways to expedite the process for providing information to law enforcement agencies, Stefanik said.

“This is an issue that’s important to every American, and it goes beyond party lines,” she said.

The legislation passed on a voice vote with no opposition.

Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., was the main sponsor of the bill that had 40 Republican and 16 Democratic cosponsors.

Votes

Stefanik voted largely along party lines in January, voting in support of legislation that dovetailed with her 2014 campaign platform.

She characterized her vote to approve TransCanada’s application to construct the Keystone XL Pipeline as “probably the biggest national issue” of her early votes.

A vote regarding Social Security has drawn criticism from local Democrats, including Richard Dudley, one of the organizers of Greater Glens Falls Democracy for America chapter.

Stefanik voted in support of a House rule change that would prohibit a mechanism called a “technical fix” to replenish the Social Security Disability Trust Fund.

The mechanism has previously been used 11 times, including four times during the administration of President Ronald Reagan, according to a statement from U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.

Schumer, who opposes the rule change, said not replenishing the trust fund could force a reduction in Social Security disability benefits as early as 2016.

Stefanik said the measure would force Congress to address the solvency of Social Security.

She said the rule does not directly cut benefits. “Absolutely not,” she said. “Doing nothing would result in a cut in benefits to the disability fund in 2016.”

Leadership opposition

The Washington Post on Jan. 21 reported Stefanik was among a group of women Republican House members that met with House leaders to raise concerns about proposed legislation that would ban abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy.

After the meeting, House leaders decided not to put the bill up for a vote that week, as planned.

According to The Washington Post, there was concern that an exception for a woman who is raped was too restrictive.

The exception required the victim to report the rape to law enforcement officials.

Stefanik said Saturday that almost all female Republican House members were at the meeting.

“The final bill will probably be reintroduced later on this year. I have to wait and see the actual language in the final bill,” she said.

Committees

Stefanik was assigned to three subcommittees of the House Armed Services Committee: Readiness; Personnel; Emerging Threats and Capabilities.

She was appointed to the House Education Workforce Committee and is also seeking assignment to the Higher Education Subcommittee.

On the national scene

The February edition of Glamour magazine includes a feature story, “Meet U.S. Representative Elise Stefanik, the Youngest Woman to Ever Break into the Old Boy’s Club of Congress.”

That’s not the only national exposure she received.

A caricature of Stefanik, among a group of other prominent politicians, is on the cover of the Jan. 26 edition of National Journal.

Stefanik and U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., spoke Wednesday in Washington at the national launch of All In Together, a nonpartisan project to encourage women to become involved in public policy.

“This group is trying to identify women to act and get engaged in the process,” Stefanik said.

Stefanik said she spoke about the need for more women to submit letters to the editors of newspapers.

In the district

Stefanik tried her hand at mixing electronic music when she visited SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music on Thursday.

“It’s really cutting edge tools for students to learn in a hands on manner,” she said. “I tried it out. I used some music you hear in movies all the time.”

Stefanik traveled the district every weekend, visiting schools, touring factories and meeting with doctors and business leaders.

New State United Teachers, which backed Democrat Aaron Woolf in the November election, had a “candid discussion” at a meeting with Stefanik on Jan. 23, said Carl Korn, a union spokesman.

“From our point of view, the meeting went very well. Congresswoman Stefanik listened carefully and was engaged on the issues,” he said.

Follow staff writer Maury Thompson at All Politics is Local blog on poststar.com, at PS_Politics on Twitter, and at Maury Thompson Post-Star on Facebook.

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