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Owens supported bill to avert federal shutdown


CANTON - In an effort to stave off a looming shutdown of the federal government when the previous continuing resolution expires March 27, Rep. William L. Owens, D-Plattsburgh, joined fellow lawmakers in the House on Wednesday to provide funding through September.

The resolution totals $982 billion and includes roughly $140 million in additional spending at Fort Drum for projects that already have been authorized.

Mr. Owens said he views the resolution passed by the House as a necessary step toward ensuring the federal government avoids a shutdown.

The resolution also includes an additional $10.4 billion in military Operations and Maintenance spending.

Three projects at Fort Drum will see portions of that money: $95 million will be directed toward the installation of a new aircraft hangar, $17.3 million will be spent on a new soldier specialty care clinic and $25.9 million will be applied to a date terminal complex for the Missile Defense Agency.

“That’s very important to ongoing operations,” Mr. Owens said of the decision to increase spending in those areas.

The House bill did not give additional funding for domestic programs, however, and Mr. Owens said he expects the Senate to act on those measures.

“The Senate is taking up domestic spending,” Mr. Owens said. “What we’re hoping is those two bills will go to conference and there will be a compromise.”

But the House bill does not address the continuing sequestration that went into effect last week and cuts federal spending by $85 billion.

Even the new money headed for defense programs will be affected by sequestration, Mr. Owens said.

Mr. Owens said he believes federal spending does need to be addressed, but there is a need to “cut smarter” instead of cutting across the board.

Minority Democrats appeared torn between a desire to support legislation to keep the government open and their goal of replacing at least half of the spending cuts with provisions to increase revenue. The bill passed with the support of 53 Democrats, more than a quarter of those voting.

The resolution passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 267-151. It now goes to the Senate, where Democrats and the White House are deep in negotiations with Republicans on changes that would give the Department of Homeland Security and other domestic agencies the same type of flexibility in administering the spending cuts that the Pentagon would receive.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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