• Lawmakers to Westchester Business: Make Your Voices Heard

  • MARCH 11, 2017

  • Congressional Reps Urge Leaders to Speak Out on Healthcare, Immigration, Infrastructure

  • At a packed WCA “Report from Washington” event held on March 6, Westchester’s Congressional delegation collectively conveyed trepidation about potential fallout from President Trump’s political agenda, but expressed hope for both parties to move ahead together to solve pressing issues. Among those issues that impact the business community: healthcare, immigration, and infrastructure. Moderated by WCBS News 880 reporter Alex Silverman, the panel discussion featured US Representatives Nita Lowey, Eliot Engel, and Sean Patrick Maloney...

    “We want to work with him,” said Maloney. “The President has great capacity right now with the [Republican] House and Senate to make progress. The business community is ready to go. Economic growth is the most important thing we can do to help our long-term deficit problems.

    Infrastructure key

    All three lawmakers placed infrastructure high on the list of Trump priorities they could get behind because of its potential to create jobs and repair a crumbling transportation system.

    “Infrastructure is the best chance for bipartisan cooperation in Congress,” said Engel. “Our highways, bridges and tunnels here are antiquated. This is a win-win.”

    Lowey said she would push for digital infrastructure, a priority of the Westchester County Association and its Gigabit Westchester initiative that aims to bring super-speed broadband to every home, business, healthcare and educational organization in the county’s major cities. The U.S. military’s “laser-focus” on digital communications was a good sign, she noted.

    Repairing healthcare

    Moderator Alex Silverman revealed that only 18% of Westchester businesses recently surveyed by the WCA want to see the Affordable Care Act remain unchanged. The panelists suggested a repair of the current law was preferable to a replacement.

    “The ACA didn’t help cost drivers as much as it helped coverage,” said Rep. Maloney. [In Westchester and the Hudson Valley] we have great, innovative businesses that are betting the ranch on delivering better outcomes at lower costs. The President’s opportunity is that we’ve moved from the rhetoric of repeal, to the reality of replace, and where we are going to land is the possibility of repair. In that repair conversation, we can do a lot together.”

    Lowey spoke about the financial burden hospitals will bear if the Trump administration reduced the federal share of Medicaid spending. “If there’s no Medicaid, they’ll all go to the hospitals. You won’t let them die on the street,” she said, acknowledging the many major healthcare organizations represented at the event.

    Immigration reform

    Many Westchester businesses depend on immigrants who are willing to do the job that many Americans won’t do, noted Lowey. “Where are the voices?” she implored. “It’s important that your voices be heard, and drown out those who say ‘get them out of here.’”

    Engel said he supported a path to citizenship for hardworking immigrants who came here for a better life, and he vowed to fight “anti-immigrant hysteria.” Maloney agreed, making the business case for granting legal status to undocumented individuals, noting “they are contributing $40 billion to the New York economy.”

    “That’s real economic activity,” said Maloney. “They aren’t paying into social security or Medicare the way we want them to. It would benefit all of us to change that.”

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