Schumer Completes 62 County Tour For 15th Year In A Row

Upon his election to the Senate in 1998, Schumer made a pledge to visit every single New York county each year – after 15 years, the tradition continues.

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New York, NY - December 16, 2013 - Today, with his visit to Saratoga Train Station, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer completed his 15th consecutive 62 county tour of New York – a feat that makes him the first New York state public official to visit every single county in New York every year he has been in office. Schumer highlighted some of the year’s biggest accomplishments including passage of the $60 billion Sandy Supplemental Appropriations Bill, the Senate passage of Comprehensive Immigration Reform, the rescheduling of hydrocodone to a Schedule II Drug, the launch of a U.S. Department of Agriculture Greek Yogurt pilot program serving New York yogurt at New York’s schools, and much more.

Over the course of the year, Schumer made over 230 visits to Upstate New York and Long Island.  He visited the Capital Region 25 times; the Southern Tier 14 times; Western New York 22 times; the Hudson Valley 41 times; Long Island 64 times; the Rochester Finger Lakes Region 28 times; Central New York 24 times, and the North Country 12 times.      

“Crisscrossing the state, seeing old and new faces, and hearing firsthand from New York parents, business owners, medical researchers, manufacturers, teachers and so many others is one of the most important things that I do as a Senator, and is a huge part of how I work to solve the problems we face as a state and a country. This tradition, now in its 15thyear, truly makes me a better public servant to my constituents, and traveling across New York’s 62 counties each year also reminds me that there isn’t a tougher and more hardworking state in the nation. I’m confident that next year will be a great year for New York, and I’m excited to kick off the 16th 62-county tour next month.”

Today Schumer’s office issued a report, attached to this release, detailing his achievements for the past year.

Some of the highlights include:

Capital Region
Played Key Role in Bringing Apple chip Manufacturing to Upstate New York: Schumer brought Apple CEO Tim Cook and GlobalFoundries CEO Ajit Manocha together for the first time in his Washington, DC office.   Schumer and Manocha pushed Cook on GlobalFoundries belief that more chip design and manufacturing should be “reshored” here in America.   Schumer pushed Cook, to look at opportunities with GlobalFoundries in Malta.   In November, it was reported that GlobalFoundries will partner with Apple and Samsung to produce “A-chips” for Apple’s future generation iPhones.

After the rail disaster in Lac Megantic, Quebec, Called on the USDOT to Create Plan to Retrofit or Phase-out the DOT-111 rail tank car, which has been proven to be flawed, but is used to carry hazardous & flammable materials through New York each and every day.  The Capital Region in particular has a high frequency of freight rail carrying crude oil and ethanol from the Midwest to the Port of Albany and refineries in New Jersey.  After Schumer’s call, the DOT convened a safety advisory committee to work on new recommendations for the cars and has proposed a new rule that incorporates concepts pushed by Schumer – it would consider retrofitting/phase out of the flawed DOT-111 design.  In addition, after Schumer’s efforts, the American Association of Railroads agreed to support necessary safety improvements or an “aggressive phase-out” of old tank cars carrying flammable liquids. Schumer remains engaged on the issue, and submitted formal comments as part of the process in Mid-October, that continued to press both DOT and the industry to meet a higher standard of car safety for the transport of hazardous materials.

Cosponsored and led the passage of the Helium Stewardship Act Reauthorization: The bill was the number one legislative priority of the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) and will ensure that the Federal Helium Reserve remains open.  Helium is crucial to the manufacturing of semiconductors and companies like GlobalFoundries, IBM, Intel and those found on the CNSE campus need a reliable, steady supply at a stable cost.  If the reserve had shut down, which was expected for early October, it would have caused the price of helium to skyrocket and cause a major market interruption for the industry.

Hudson Valley
Secured Highland Falls impact aid through Dept. of Defense:Schumer was originally successful in getting a temporary 2 year fix into the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 that was signed into law on January 2, 2013. This fix is set to sunset after 2 years. The language included in the new Senate HELP bill would make this fix permanent. Schumer’s solution would send the school district approximately $2 million more per year in federal aid. Though the ESEA bill must pass before the fix becomes permanent, the legislation has now cleared a major hurdle, passing out of the Senate HELP Committee. The school district is in a unique position, with the land within the district approximately 93% exempt from property taxation due to wholly exempt federal and state-owned land. Highland Falls therefore has a very small tax base and, to make matters worse, has been drastically and constantly shortchanged by the state and federal government. 

Helped Secure Critical Federal Funding for Rockland’s County’s Homes for Heroes Project, Attending Grand Opening: In November 2013, the day before Veterans Day, Schumer joined for the grand opening of Homes for Heroes, a nonprofit dedicated to building affordable housing for disabled and displaced veterans in Rockland County. This project thus far has provided eight veterans with permanent rental apartments, and will include handicapped accessible, garden-style apartments, a community center, and offices for other support to residents. Homes for Heroes still intends to build 52 units for homeless and disabled vets, and Schumer will continue to fight for funding. Due to the economic downturn and a variety of funding issues, Homes for Heroes had a tenth of the federal funding originally expected and the entire project was at risk. What’s more, Homes for Heroes was experiencing significant issues with obtaining a long-term lease from the federal government. With the full support of Schumer, the nonprofit was able to navigate bureaucratic red tape, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the General Services Administration heeded Schumer’s call and granted the organization a long-term lease extension.

Fought for Consumers’ Rights during the Central Hudson/Fortis Merger, Convinced Foreign Buyer to include a Series of Ratepayer Protections in Final Terms of Deal: When Fortis bought the Central Hudson Energy Group, Schumer demanded job security for employees, more than a one year freeze rate for consumers and called for more clarity of Fortis’ plans for infrastructure improvements, “storm hardening measures” and renewable energy investments. Although Fortis did not meet all of Schumer’s demands, leaving him opposed to the merger, CH Energy and Fortis responded to Schumer’s requests by making commitments to the existing workforce, and by increasing the financial incentives, economic development package and community benefits of the finalized deal. Fortis committed to freezing rates through July 1, 2015, a $50 million benefit package for customers to cover previously incurred storm costs and invest in economic development, and another $215 million in capital expenditures over the next two years to improve infrastructure.

North Country
Announced $600 Million Expansion & Modernization Of Alcoa; Hundreds Of New Jobs For Massena: This summer, Schumer announced Alcoa’s $600 million dollar expansion and modernization—that will create new and permanent jobs—after he successfully pushed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to expedite a responsible but pragmatic cleanup plan for the Grasse River. The plan Schumer pushed with the EPA mandates Alcoa cleanup the river to EPA standards but does not go to an extreme that is both unnecessary and at the expense of more Massena jobs.  In 2007, Schumer fought for low-cost energy in St. Lawrence County and worked to convince state officials to work with Alcoa so that plants like theirs could continue to be an economic engine for all of St. Lawrence County.

Urged Amtrak to put more Bikes on Trains and Boost Bicycle Tourism in Upstate New York: In June, 2013 Schumer joined State Senator Betty Little and the Capital Region Chambers of Commerce in calling for Amtrak to enable passengers to bring their bicycles aboard trains that travel from New York City to the Adirondacks.  After Schumer's personal appeal to Amtrak President Joseph Boardman, Amtrak ran pilot test runs on both the "Ethan Allen" and the "Adirondack" lines. Schumer’s office remains engaged in talks with Amtrak, NYSDOT, and the Chambers of Commerce on how to make this a permanent accommodation.

Extended Medicare Payment Programs Providing $750,000 to Lewis County General Hospital: In January, Schumer announced he preserved two critical Medicare programs, the Medicare-Dependent Hospital Program and the Low Volume Hospital Program, from being sacrificed in year-end fiscal cliff negotiations. These programs address hospitals with low numbers of overall patients but high rates of patients who utilize Medicare. The Lewis County General Hospital would have lost $753,000 annually had these programs been allowed to expire. Schumer will continue to fight for North Country hospitals because these funds help ensure access to quality healthcare in rural communities.  

Central New York
Stopped Lockheed Martin Corp From Axing 1,700 Syracuse Jobs:This October, Schumer learned of a ‘secret plan’ hatched by Lockheed Martin Corp to move 1,700 jobs from Electronics Park in Salina to other U.S. locations, like New Jersey, Virginia and Florida. Schumer immediately dialed up Lockheed’s CEO, Marillyn Hewson, and made the case for the Central New York operation and its workers, and she subsequently made clear that the ‘secret plan’ was off the table for at least a year. Schumer is continuing to hold Lockheed accountable and will continue to fight for every Lockheed job in Central New York. As one of the area’s largest for-profit employer, Lockheed employees can be found commuting from the Utica-area, as well. 

Fought For Families Like The Priors Of Syracuse; Wrote “Andrew’s Law”: After the tragic hit and run death of their son, Andrew, the Prior family wrote Schumer. The family chronicled nearly a year of harassment they had endured by two private lending companies—which despite the tragic death of their son—wanted the family to pay off his remaining student loan balance. While two other private lenders and the federal government had absolved the loans, these two companies, blaming each other, wouldn’t even attempt to work with the family on a payment plan. Instead, they threatened to take their car and home if they didn’t pay. After Schumer publically pushed the two companies to do the right thing and forgive Andrew Prior’s loan, it was announced that Andrew’s remaining loan would indeed be forgiven, ending more than a year of unrest for the Prior family.  Schumer later introduced legislation called, “Andrew’s Law.” This proposed legislation would force the few private lenders who do not absolve student loan debt in the case of a tragic death to follow the common practice of forgiveness, like the majority of other companies.

Revived Job Numbers In Downtown Utica: After it was announced that Xerox-owned ACS on Bleecker Street was laying off over 100 employees, Schumer stepped in and worked to find a new tenant for the public side of the Xerox site. In October, Schumer announced that Maximus, a New York-based company would be pumping 150 jobs back into Bleecker Street to perform detailed loan processing work. He helped secure a $848.4 million contract from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Federal Student Aid, that will allow the company to move into space in the Xerox Utica facility, and help administer the defaulted student loan debt program. MAXIMUS has committed to prioritizing the hiring of laid-off Xerox employees for this new work in public loan processing. The average salaries are good and the company has committed to a meeting with the locals in early 2014 to discuss future growth opportunities.

Rochester Finger Lakes
Secured Valeant commitment to add 100 new jobs, manufacture the next-generation Next Generation SiHy (Silicone Hydrogel) contact lens – dubbed “Zeus” – at the Rochester Bausch + Lomb (B+L) facility: During the process of Valeant’s acquisition of B+L, Schumer pressed Valeant to reconsider their plans to manufacture Zeus in Ireland, since the Rochester B+L manufacturing facility on North Goodman street was already developing the pilot line. Schumer announced after speaking with Valeant CEO J. Michael Person,  that full-scale, commercial manufacturing of the “Zeus” line will take place at the Rochester B+L facility, creating 100 new jobs and $106M in new investment at B+L’s North Goodman Street manufacturing facility in Rochester.

Secured a $17.7 million Federal TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) Grant making the long sought Inner Loop East Reconstruction Project a reality: The Inner Loop Expressway is an underutilized and deteriorated highway that isolates Rochester’s downtown from the rest of the City and its vibrant neighborhoods nearby, which creates an impediment to economic activity and business development in the area.  Schumer personally met with Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx to push his support of the project, which in 2011, was voted the region’s highest priority TIGER application by the local metropolitan planning organization. This project will remove the southeast section of this obstructive, 12-lane wide section of the Inner Loop Expressway, and replace it with a new high quality city boulevard with bike lanes, sidewalks and public parking. In addition, project will open up 9 acres for new prime real-estate development, creating hundreds of jobs and adding millions to the city’s tax base.

Pushed the Department of Defense to reverse course and now allow companies across the country, including Rochester’s Harris RF to compete for 5-year multi-million dollar military radio contracts: Specifically, the Army has committed to a multi-vendor, multi-award acquisition process – set to be finalized by the end of the year – that would not only allow multiple companies to compete for the contracts, it would allow the Army to select multiple contractors to each make a percentage of the radios.  Prior to this decision, the Army was pursuing a single-vendor process for each of its next-generation radio contracts: the “Manpack” and “Rifleman” versions, leaving companies like Harris, with approximately 2000 local workers, without an even playing field to compete.

Southern Tier
Secured $2 Million for major Broome County economic development project: Schumer successfully secured $2 million in US Economic Development Administration funding to help develop the first High-Tech Incubator in the County. This project infuses the City Urban Core with a multimillion development project, to promote economic activity in the heart of downtown Binghamton, capitalize on the strength of Binghamton University’s research and high tech expertise, and provide a supportive environment to enable new companies to flourish and jobs to be created. Recognizing the value of the project and the strength of the partnership working to bring it to fruition, Schumer was a tireless advocate on its behalf to the EDA Acting Undersecretary Erskine, and even brought an EDA official to the region to meet with stakeholders and get a firsthand overview of the project.

Protected 1,000 Delaware County Jobs at Amphenol Aerospace in Sidney: After another devastating flood left the future of Amphenol Aerospace in Sidney in question, and over 1,000 jobs at risk, Schumer sprang to action working with local stakeholders to develop a plan of action. A new flood proof facility was in short-order, and Schumer working closely with the Delaware County Industrial Development Agency. Schumer worked first helped author a provision in FY 2012 appropriations “mini-bus legislation” that designated $200 million in disaster relief to flood-hit areas like the Southern Tier. The IDA’s plan to acquire and prepare a shovel ready site, safe from future potential flood waters, to house a new Amphenol facility was just what was needed to retain these important jobs. Schumer lead the charge to secure funding from this disaster relief he helped author and successfully secured $3.8M to help pave the way for the development of this new IDA owned site, and a future for 1,000 Southern Tier workers.

After personal push to FEMA, Secured Over $24 million for the New building for the Owego Elementary School, which was destroyed in Tropical Storm Lee: FEMA initially denied the Owego Appalachin School District’s application to replace the school, but after Schumer directly pressed FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, FEMA agreed to reverse course in June 2012.  This year, the $24 million was obligated to the school district, which allowed them to break ground on the new Owego Elementary School building this November.  The old Owego Elementary School was flooded with approximately 18 inches of water as a result of rains associated with Tropical Storm Lee. This new building will save children in the area about 3 hours a day in unnecessary commuting times to nearby school districts and help improve their academic experience.

Western New York
Ensured Kali, the Buffalo Zoo Polar Bear, would remain in Buffalo for at least 2 years: In November, Schumer led effort to keep beloved polar bear cub, Kali, in Buffalo. In the midst of rumors that other zoos were seeking to claim Kali, Schumer made a call to Director Ashe of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, successfully convincing the agency to allow Kali to remain at the Buffalo Zoo until 2015. Schumer cited that it was in the best interest of Buffalo, but most importantly for the bear, who will now remain safe and healthy, accompanied by his polar bear friend Luna, until he reaches adulthood.

Helped Create 350 new jobs at the Ford Stamping Plant in Hamburg: After a personal call to Ford CEO Mullaly, Schumer successfully secured expansion of Hamburg Ford plant, creating 350 jobs for Western New York. Upon learning of a recent Ford investment in their Ontario assembly plant, Schumer saw potential to benefit the Hamburg stamping plant and strongly urged Mullaly to consider a joint investment in both the Ontario plant and Hamburg plant, which could be facilitated by the commercial traffic pre-inspection plan at the Peace Bridge, spearheaded by Schumer, and set to begin in 2014. Schumer argued the point that reliable cross-border travel from Canada to the U.S. would allow Ford to quickly and efficiently ship products between the two plants.

Delivered $13M in TIGER Funds to Return Cars to the 500 Block of Main St. in Downtown Buffalo: Schumer, working alongside Mayor Byron Brown, spearheaded the effort to return cars to Main Street in downtown Buffalo. Main Street was once one of the most economically successful and thriving sections of downtown, but since cars were removed twenty years ago, the area has slowly seen a downturn in economic activity and pedestrian traffic. Currently, most of the storefronts remain barren as residents find the area difficult to navigate. As part of the re-development of Buffalo, Schumer has pushed to once again open up the promising area of Main Street to vehicle and pedestrian traffic in the hopes of stimulating the surrounding businesses and attracting new investment.

Reduced the Amount Erie County Owed FEMA from $48M to $705,000: The 2006 October Storm devastated the Western New York region, causing 80 percent of those living in Erie County to experience damage and leaving 400,000 people without power. FEMA funds were necessary in order to rehabilitate the city and surrounding areas. Following an audit by the Inspector General it was determined that Erie County owed $48 million to FEMA, which, if paid, would cause financial crises in the county and trigger massive service cuts and tax hikes. Calling this action ‘unfair’, Schumer immediately reached out to FEMA Director Fugate and was able to persuade FEMA to decrease the amount owed to $705,000, approximately 1.45 percent of the original audit request.

Long Island
Championed and Passed the $60 billion Superstorm Sandy Disaster Relief Appropriations Act: A little over a year ago, high winds and a massive storm caused widespread flooding, loss of life, temporary homelessness, and significant damage to private property, public infrastructure and health care facilities. In order to help homeowners, small businesses, and local governments recover and build back stronger from Superstorm Sandy, Senator Schumer championed and passed a $60 billion dollar relief bill within 90 days of landfall. This bipartisan relief law is helping millions of unfortunate victims of Hurricane Sandy. After taking the sequester cuts into account, the bill appropriated following funding to help the community rebuild stronger:

  • $10.9 billion for the FEMA Disaster Relief Fund
  • $15.2 billion for the Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Relief (CDBG-DR)
  • $12.4 billion for transportation recovery and resiliency projects
  • $5.08 billion for the Army Corps of Engineers to rebuild and construct coastal protection projects
  • $441 million for the Environmental Protection Agency and Dept. of Interior to rebuild and construct critical green infrastructure
  • $754 million to repair and rebuild New York’s hospitals and health care facilities and to help the NIH restart medical research programs
  • $235 million for the Department of Veterans Affairs for the repair and reconstruction of the Manhattan VA and other medical facilities, which sustained severe flood damage during the storm.

Prevented water bills from skyrocketing due to contamination from Bethpage Plume:

In October of 2013, Schumer urged the Navy to reimburse Bethpage Water District (BWD) for the money it borrowed to build water treatment plants to treat contaminated water from the toxic Bethpage plume. On March 28, 2013, the U.S. Navy offered a settlement which fully covered the costs incurred by BWD. Because of Schumer’s actions, approximately 10,000 homeowners will be spared extra payments to mitigate the effects of the toxic plume.

Led fight for fair national fluke management standards, helping New York anglers: Schumer pushed the federal fishery management councils to lower fluke catch limits to 19 inches in 2013. This is a half-inch shorter than the previous year’s regulations.  This change gave New York fishermen more parity with other state's regulations than in previous years, creating more revenue and boosting the fishing industry in Long Island.  Schumer also introduced the first-ever "Fluke Fairness Act" in November, which would mandate that the fishery councils modify the fluke management plan permanently to bring New York's allocation in line with other states.