Massa coming through on promise to vote for SCHIP, help farmers

January 14, 2009

Health care for children, helping local dairy farmers and building high-speed rail through Rochester were all part of U.S. Rep. Eric Massa’s, D-29, first press conference call Tuesday morning.

Massa, who was sworn in Jan. 6, said he is making good on campaign promises, including backing up fellow Democrats on the State Child Health Insurance Program.

SCHIP, he said, is what funds the state Child Health Plus program, and an expansion — vetoed twice by President George Bush — would add coverage to an additional 4 million American children to the program.

“It will not add a penny to the deficit,” he said, adding the funding would come from an increased tax on cigarettes and other tobacco products.

Massa also discussed his first committee appointments.

The first committee assignment was to the House Armed Services Committee, which oversees the military. The second committee, which he said will be vital for the Southern Tier, is the House Agriculture Committee.

Massa is one of two members on the committee, along with Kirsten Gillibrand, D-20.
“The two of us will try to be on four different committees,” he said.

There is one area Massa would like to take immediate action, he said, which would help ailing dairy farmers, who will be hit by drops in milk protein prices.

“This is truly a collapse in the milk futures market,” he said, adding something needs to be done immediately to help diary farmers, who have been struck by milk prices being cut in half.

The freshman congressman also said he was pleased to support two labor bills this week, the Employee Free Choice Act and the Fair Pay Act.

The Employee Free Choice Act, he said, is a bill that would loosen rules allowing workers to unionize while imposing stricter rules on how businesses can stop workers from organizing.
“This isn’t an anti-business bill, but a pro-America bill,” Massa said.

Massa also said he was proud to vote for the Fair Pay Act, which allows employees to sue for back wages and benefits from employers.

He came under attack from the National Republican Congressional Committee Friday for the measure, with the group saying Massa was doing nothing more than helping trial lawyers make money off American business owners by removing the statute of limitations on back pay lawsuits.
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