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During Schumer’s 1998 Senate Election, He Vowed To Visit Every Single New York County Each Year – At The Close of Two Decades, The Tradition Continues

Even As Senate Democratic Leader, Schumer Staunchly Believes That Visiting Every Single New York County Is Imperative To His Daily Work In U.S. Capitol; Vows To Continue This Tradition In 2019

After Two Decades, Schumer Continues To Honor His Pledge & Listen To And Deliver For Constituents In All 62 Counties

After two decades, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer, Senate Democratic Leader, today completed his 20th consecutive tour of all 62 New York State counties – an accomplishment that continues his track record as the first New York State public official to visit every single county in New York each year he has been in office.

Over the course of the year, Schumer made 135 trips to Upstate New York and Long Island. He visited counties in the Capital Region 19 times; Western New York 13 times; Central New York 21 times; the Rochester-Finger Lakes 19 times; the Southern Tier 13 times; the Hudson Valley 16 times; the North Country 7 times; and Long Island 27 times.

“Two decades ago, upon my election to the United States Senate in 1998, I promised that each and every year I served I would visit all 62 of New York State’s diverse counties. Not only has this ritual remained a steadfast passion of mine because I get to see the absolute best that New York has to offer, but because of all I learn from my constituents and bring to Washington, D.C.,” said Senator Schumer. “Although I’ve gained the title of Minority Leader, my proudest and most principal titles have been, and will always remain, New York’s Senator and ‘New Yorker.’  At the close of twenty years, my beliefs are as clear as ever: ‘Senators who stay in Washington and never return home are simply not doing their job.’ That’s why I go to all of the street fairs, parades, graduations, and public events that I can. Whether I’m in Buffalo eating beef-on-weck at the fair or slapping hands at the Boilermaker finish line, I’m always mixing, mingling and learning more about New York directly from my constituents.”

Some of the highlights include:

Capital Region:

Kept Promise to Deliver Funding for Critical Troy Seawall Reconstruction Project: In 2014, Sen. Schumer committed to securing funding for the reconstruction of the Troy seawall, which was last repaired 40 years ago. After years of flooding, erosion, ice flows, and tropical storms, the seawall was crumbling and threatening downtown Troy’s economic revitalization. This May, after the Federal Emergency Management Agency delivered $14 million in Hazard Mitigation Grant Program funding, Schumer stood with local leaders and officially kicked off the reconstruction.

Helped Reverse Canadian Paper Tariffs Threatening Quad Graphics and Other Printing Companies: After the U.S. Department of Commerce imposed preliminary duties on uncoated groundwood paper from Canada, Sen. Schumer threw himself into a months-long effort to reverse the tariffs that were jeopardizing the very existence of newspapers and printing companies in the Capital Region and across the state. One of those companies, Quad Graphics, hosted Schumer for a tour in July, when he learned they could lose as much as $90 million annually since there is no alternative groundwood paper producer in the northeastern U.S. Schumer reached across the aisle to work with the Speaker of the House of Representatives Paul Ryan and made personal pleas to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and the International Trade Commission. In August, the International Trade Commission voted to strike down the duties completely.

Relentlessly Pursued to Completion a Decade-Long Effort to Provide Safe and Reliable Rail Service to Schenectady and the Capital Region: Over the course of a decade, Sen. Schumer secured more than $10 million in federal funding to build a new Schenectady train station, which finally opened to passengers in October. This funding was the capstone to more than $155 million in federal resources, provided through the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and Federal Transit Administration, that Sen. Schumer has fought for and delivered to the Capital Region. This funding supported the construction of a second track from Schenectady to Albany and a fourth track at the Albany-Rensselaer Station, signals and switch enhancements along the route, and the installation of life-saving Positive Train Control technology. Taken together, these federally-funded improvements add up to the safest and most reliable train service that Capital Region passengers have enjoyed in more than half a century. 

Central New York:

Delivered $700 Million in DOD Funding to Ensure Lockheed Martin Could Begin Full Production in Salina on the Largest Contract in Plant History: For years, Sen. Schumer has helped Lockheed Martin advance its Q-53 radar system, which can detect, track, and determine the location of enemy fire, with the U.S. Department of Defense and in Congress. In 2017, Schumer helped Lockheed’s plant in Salina secure the single-largest U.S. government contract in its history, a deal worth up to $1.6 billion to provide the U.S. Army with Q-53 technology. After the contract was awarded, Schumer got to work in Congress to ensure the Army had the funding needed to begin purchasing the radar by delivering more than $700 million over FY2018 and FY2019 to allow Lockheed to begin full production in Salina.

Played Critical Role in Reviving Syracuse’s Lead Abatement Program After Five-Year Absence: In 2013, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) pulled annual funding for Syracuse’s lead abatement program because the city was not following proper testing guidelines for homes renovated with federal money. Sen. Schumer has pleaded with federal officials in subsequent years to resume funding for the city’s lead prevention programs, but a lack of federal appropriations for HUD remained a barrier. Years later, and still without federal funding for lead removal, at least 600 Syracuse children per year were testing positive for lead poisoning. A turning point came this year when Schumer helped secure an $85-million increase for HUD’s lead programming office in the FY2018 omnibus spending package. In a personal phone call with HUD Secretary Ben Carson, Schumer pleaded for a portion of that funding increase to be sent to Syracuse. Ultimately, HUD heeded Schumer’s call and delivered more than $4.1 million, allowing the city to finally restart its lead abatement program after it lay dormant for five years. 

Helped Remove Legislative Language from NDAA that Threatened DFAS Jobs in Rome: For years, Sen. Schumer has fought to protect Defense Finance & Accounting Services (DFAS), which employs more than 900 workers at its headquarters in Rome, from threats to siphon off jobs. When the U.S. House of Representatives included a provision in the FY 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would have threatened cuts to DFAS, Schumer worked to remove the language in the Senate, ensuring DFAS can continue its work unimpeded. 

Western New York:

Fulfilled Promise to Rebuild Crumbling Athol Springs Barrier on Route 5 in Erie County: In July 2017, Sen. Schumer stood at Hoak’s Restaurant on Route 5 in Hamburg to call attention to the deteriorating Athol Springs wall’s decreasing ability to protect this vital roadway from Lake Erie’s waves. Following his push, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) allocated more than $4 million to fully fund the construction of a safer, more durable barrier along Route 5 consisting of a 1,325-foot revetment and 15-foot wide splash apron. The new barrier will also include a concrete pedestrian walkway along the Lake Erie shoreline.

Fought to Reverse Harmful DOE Policy Jeopardizing Millions of Dollars of Say Yes to Education Funding in Buffalo: In January 2017, the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) issued a regulatory change that prohibited the release of Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) data to non-state and private scholarship providers. This new policy resulted in delays for tuition and grant payments for hundreds of Buffalo college students receiving Say Yes to Education scholarships. Sen. Schumer wrote to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and urged her to expand access to FAFSA so that students could continue to receive timely tuition payments through “last dollar” scholarships such as Say Yes Buffalo. In 2018, Schumer successfully included an amendment in the FY2018 omnibus spending package that reversed the harmful DOE policy, ensuring that these scholarships will continue to help students in Western New York afford college. 

Secured Critical Funding for Chautauqua Lake Water Quality Feasibility Study: In response to community concerns about Chautauqua Lake, an important regional recreation destination that has been suffering from algal blooms and increasing erosion, Sen. Schumer and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand secured funding in the Water Resource Development Act (WRDA) to support a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) study of the full causes and impacts of these issues. USACE plans to also examine flood risk management measures and assess ecosystem restoration efforts.  

Finger Lakes Region:

Convinced JetBlue to Clear Rochester-to-Boston Flights for Takeoff: For years, Sen. Schumer has led the charge to bring affordable and frequent air service to the Rochester-Finger Lakes region. In October, JetBlue heeded Schumer’s persistent advocacy by agreeing to establish a daily flight between Rochester and Boston. This new route, which will open in January 2019, will boost competition and increase the availability and connectivity of low-cost flights from the Rochester-Finger Lakes region to the rest of the U.S. and beyond.

Successfully Reversed Proposal to Slash Funding and Close the University of Rochester Laboratory for Laser Energetics by Securing Record $80 Million to Keep Lab Open, Saving Over 300 Rochester Jobs: When the White House proposed a disastrous plan to slash funding and close the Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE) at the University of Rochester, Sen. Schumer stepped up and relentlessly advocated for this cutting-edge facility that sustains hundreds of high-tech jobs in the region. Schumer’s efforts culminated in September by securing $80 million – a $5 million increase over last  year and the highest funding level the LLE has ever received – that will help the LLE continue pushing the frontiers of energy research. This effort built upon an earlier push to boost LLE’s funding by $7 million in the FY2018 Omnibus spending package in March.

Delivered Final $190 Million Needed to Complete Modernization of the Canandaigua VA Medical Center Campus: Between 2003 and 2004, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Capital Asset Realignment for Enhancement Services (CARES) Commission recommended shutting down the Canandaigua VA Medical Center. Sen. Schumer immediately launched a campaign to not only reverse this decision but also initiate a major reconstruction project to modernize the facility. After securing $161 million for the first phase of the project, which broke ground this year, Schumer delivered again in September by securing $190 million in Military Construction funding for Phase II. These critical resources will enable the Canandaigua VA Medical Center to provide state-of-the-art care to the men and women who have dedicated their lives to protecting the country.

Secured $3.9-Billion Army Procurement Order for Harris Corporation to Manufacture Thousands of Leader Radios: Sen. Schumer has long been a fierce advocate for Harris Corporation, which supports hundreds of good-paying jobs in the Rochester area. In September, the U.S. Army selected Harris Corporation to manufacture 1,540 AN/PRC-163 (Leader Radio) two-channel handheld radios, as well as additional equipment to mount the radios on military vehicles. As one of two winners of this contract, Harris will provide up to $3.9 billion worth of new two-channel radios to fulfill the Army’s tactical needs. This major work order ensures that Harris will continue to sustain employment in the Rochester-Finger Lakes region and boost the local economy for years to come.  

Southern Tier:

Secured $8 Million in NDAA Funding for the Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source (CHESS) Lab: In September, Sen. Schumer secured $8 million in the FY2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to further a critical partnership between the Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source (CHESS) Lab, an economically- and scientifically-significant facility in the Southern Tier, and the U.S. Air Force (USAF). The lab, which is the only high-energy synchrotron light source in the country located at a research university, has played a pivotal role in a multitude of medical discoveries and scientific breakthroughs, including the 2003 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, and supports more than 200 jobs. This NDAA funding will ensure that USAF’s partnership with CHESS will continue to help the U.S. military maintain the highest performance and safety standards for its aircraft.

Successfully Pushed for Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine Accreditation for Elmira Campus: Starting in 2015, Sen. Schumer worked with the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM) and the Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation (COCA) to support a proposal to create a medical campus in the heart of downtown Elmira that would help address the poor health outcomes and shortage of physicians plaguing the Southern Tier. After Schumer logged multiple personal phone calls, letters, and visits to the Arnot Medical Center, COCA approved LECOM’s application in September, clearing the way for a new four-year medical school in Elmira that will boost public health and create jobs in the region.

Secured $2 Billion in Federal Funding for Key Lockheed Martin Helicopter Construction Projects: The FY2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) included $2 billion in new funding to support key armed services aviation projects carried out largely at Lockheed Martin’s facility in Owego. The Combat Rescue Helicopter program was allocated $1.1 billion and the VH-92 Presidential Helicopter Replacement program received $894 million in continued funding. These funds are part of an ongoing commitment by Sen. Schumer to Lockheed’s New York workforce to fight for necessary funds to protect their jobs and keep these programs well-funded so that the U.S. military has access to some of the most advanced helicopters in the world to ably perform their important missions. 

Hudson Valley:

Secured Commitment from Air Force to Immediately Install Interim Remedial Measures Surrounding Stewart ANG Base, Finally Halting Years-Long Flow of PFOS Contamination: More than two years since the discovery of extensive perfluorooctanesulfonic (PFOS) acid contamination in Washington Lake, the City of Newburgh’s primary drinking water source, Sen. Schumer successfully pushed top U.S. Air Force officials to install Interim Remedial Measures surrounding Stewart Air National Guard (ANG) base, including Recreation Pond, a main tributary of Washington Lake, to prevent more PFOS from further impacting Newburgh’s water supply. As a result of Schumer’s unrelenting advocacy, the Air Force is finally stepping up, accepting responsibility, and taking concrete steps to halt the flow and spread of PFOS contamination that has been plaguing Newburgh and the surrounding communities for years as a result of the use of firefighting foam containing PFOS at Stewart Air National Guard (ANG) base.

Secured Nearly $1.5 Million For the City of Newburgh Fire Department to Rehire Critical Firefighters: As the City of Newburgh Fire Department’s previous Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response (SAFER) grant funding expired, they were forced to lay off multiple firefighters. As an avid supporter of first responders, and from his extensive personal history working with the Newburgh Fire Department, Sen. Schumer immediately called Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Brock Long and urged him to award Newburgh a SAFER grant for an unprecedented third consecutive time. On the call, Schumer urged Administrator Long to give serious consideration to Newburgh’s application by recognizing the substantial impact the local firefighters have had on the city over the last few years, citing their heroic work at the Verla factory explosion just last year. Thanks to Schumer’s staunch advocacy, the Newburgh Fire Department was successful in securing $1.5 million in SAFER funding, allowing the department to rehire all 9 of the laid-off firefighters.

Secured Vital WRDA Authorization to Move Forward With the Mamaroneck-Sheldrake River Project: In 2007, a fatal flood ravaged the Village of Mamaroneck, causing catastrophic damage to both homes and businesses and taking a life. In the wake of the disaster, Sen. Schumer persuaded the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to quickly complete a comprehensive federal study of the Mamaroneck and Sheldrake River basins. After the eventual report was endorsed and signed in 2017, USACE began work on proposing and designing critical improvements to the basins to make the surrounding areas more resilient. This year, as a result of Schumer’s ongoing persistence over the past decade, the Mamaroneck-Sheldrake River project was finally authorized in the 2018 Water Resource Development Act (WRDA). The project will include the construction of retaining walls and a diversion culvert, the deepening and widening of river channels, structure elevation, and the removal and replacement of multiple vehicular bridges that constrict flood flow. Once completed, the project will ensure the community’s infrastructure will better weather the storms of the future.

Convinced OSHA to Establish a Notification System to Alert Local Officials and First Responders of Violations: In January, after a deadly factory fire in New Windsor, Sen. Schumer called on the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) to establish a system to notify local officials and fire departments when it cites factories for serious health and safety violations. In March, following Schumer’s push, OSHA, EPA and DHS announced they would work in lockstep with one another to establish protocols to coordinate communication between state and local governments whenever a serious violation is cited at a local facility.

Brought NASA Astronaut to Walkway Over the Hudson STARWALK Event: Sen. Schumer played an integral role in bringing National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Astronaut Shane Kimbrough to the Walkway Over the Hudson. This past September, following Schumer’s urging, Kimbrough greeted attendees and participants at one of the Walkway Over the Hudson’s STARWALK events. Kimbrough’s attendance helped launch the STARWALK program into a new galaxy and created an out-of-this-world experience for all those who participated by inspiring them to learn more about the limitless potential of scientific research and the environment. 

North Country:

Secured Funding to Complete Final Phase of Renovations at the Alexandria Bay Port of Entry After More Than a Decade of Waiting: In 2016, Sen. Schumer answered the pleas of local officials in Jefferson County by securing $105 million for Phase I of the Alexandria Bay border crossing renovations, which broke ground last year. This year, when Congress initially failed to include funding for Phase II, Schumer stepped in and successfully secured $132 million in FY2018 Omnibus spending bill for the project. These upgrades will reduce congestion and greatly increase regional economic activity by stimulating bi-national trade and attracting additional tourists to the region.

Successfully Inserted Critical Fix in FAA Reauthorization Bill to Restore Grant Funding Eligibility for Piseco Airport: A small rule change buried in the last Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization bill put the perpetual rights granted decades ago by the Town of Arietta to properties neighboring Piseco Airport in conflict with the FAA’s Residential Through-the-Fence Access (RTTF) policy. As a result, Piseco Airport was rendered ineligible for roughly $150,000 in FAA Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funding for necessary infrastructure repairs, threatening the survival of this critical regional airport. During a recent visit to Hamilton County, local officials raised the issue with Sen. Schumer, who went to bat for the town and secured language in this year’s FAA Reauthorization to grandfather Piseco into the new regulations, thereby bringing the airport back into compliance and making it re-eligible to receive the necessary AIP funding to keep the airport operating.

Delivered Cutting-Edge Military Training Equipment To Fort Drum: The Adirondack Range, managed by the U.S. Air National Guard (ANG) and located at the Fort Drum military base, is a critical facility used by U.S. Air Force personnel to train for combat. This year, Sen. Schumer worked across the aisle to support upgrades to help the Adirondack Range meet new electronic warfare training demand by delivering a Joint Threat Emitter (JTE), a simulator that helps train military personnel to identify and effectively counter enemy missile or artillery threats. The Adirondack Range will be the first ANG range in the country to receive a JTE, thereby enhancing Fort Drum’s military value to the U.S. Department of Defense as the largest and best-equipped overland training range east of the Mississippi River.

Secured $15 Million Extension of Critical Funding Stream for North Country’s Rural Hospitals: With congressional inaction jeopardizing vital Medicare payment programs, Sen. Schumer stepped up and fought for the Medicare Dependent Hospital and Low-Volume Hospital programs to be included in the February budget deal. Due to these efforts, both programs were extended for 5 years, restoring $15 million in much-needed funds to several hospitals throughout the North Country, including Adirondack Medical and Health Centers in Franklin and Essex counties, Massena Memorial Hospital in St. Lawrence County, and Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center in St. Lawrence County.

Successfully Protected Essential Air Service Funding for North Country Airports: The Essential Air Service (EAS) program was put into place to guarantee commuter air service for underserved, rural communities, including five airports in the North Country: Watertown, Massena, Ogdensburg, Plattsburgh, and Saranac Lake/Lake Placid. Sen. Schumer has long advocated for the program since its elimination would result in no scheduled air service to and from many of these airports, forcing residents to travel long distances to access flights and delivering a devastating blow to the local economy. When the White House sought to eliminate the program, Schumer launched an effort to protect it and was able to secure an agreement as part of the FY2018 omnibus spending deal to preserve full funding for the EAS program.

Long Island

Unlocked $730 Million in Superstorm Sandy Funding for Long-Delayed Army Corps of Engineers Storm Protection Projects: In February, Sen. Schumer successfully reprogrammed $730 million in funding that was trapped in bureaucratic limbo, unable to support critical mitigation work throughout New York City and Long Island like the Fire Island to Montauk Point Plan (FIMP). The resiliency funding was transferred into the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers construction account so that these resources can be actively used to support coastal resiliency projects vital to Long Island’s future FIMP. 

Successfully Demanded DOD Reimburse Suffolk County Water Authority $5 Million for Response Costs to PFAS Contamination at Gabreski ANG Base: In September 2016, private household drinking wells in Westhampton tested positive for elevated levels of perfluorooctanoic acid and perfluorooctane sulfonate, which are collectively known as polyfuoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation determined the contamination was caused by the U.S. Air National Guard’s (ANG) past use of a firefighting foam containing PFAS at the nearby Francis S. Gabreski ANG base and identified the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) as the responsible party. The Suffolk County Water Authority responded by immediately connecteding the affected drinking wells to public water, but their negotiations with the federal government over reimbursements ground to a bureaucratic halt when DOD determined they lacked the authority to repay local municipalities for response costs under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act.  In response, Sen. Schumer sponsored and passed an amendment within the FY2019 National Defense Authorization Act directing the Air Force and the National Guard to reimburse local communities for the cleanup of PFAS.

Delivered for Long Island Veterans by Relentlessly Pushing the VA to Provide Safe and Reliable Healthcare: In January, the heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) system for the emergency homeless shelter at Northport Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) failed, forcing the sudden relocation of dozens of veterans living at the facility. The shelter’s maintenance issues were the latest in a string of HVAC-related failures on the Northport campus, the most egregious of which resulted in the 2016 closure of operating rooms for four months and the postponement of surgeries. In April, after negotiating a $4-billion increase for construction and maintenance of U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs hospital facilities in the FY2018 omnibus spending package, Sen. Schumer demanded Northport VAMC be placed at the top of the list and immediately receive $15 million for repairs to the homeless shelter’s HVAC system and other energy needs. In August, Northport VA installed a new HVAC system for the homeless shelter, and Schumer has continued to push for the quick completion of remaining repairs and maintenance. Meanwhile, in July, Schumer stood with North Hempstead veterans and local officials to push the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to establish a Community-Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC) in North Hempstead as soon as possible – with a mobile unit in the meantime – to provide improved service and care to veterans in northwestern Long Island. Soon afterward, the Northport VAMC announced the deployment of a CBOC to North Hempstead while discussions for a new permanent clinic are ongoing.

Completed Successful Campaign to Name Naval War Ship for Vietnam War Hero and Irish-American Immigrant Lance Cpl. Patrick “Bob” Gallagher: In 2017, Sen. Schumer joined Long Island veterans and Irish-Americans in a call to name a U.S. Naval Warship after Marine Lance Corporal Patrick “Bob” Gallagher, an Irish-American war hero from Long Island who was awarded the Navy Cross for saving the lives of three fellow soldiers in Vietnam. Schumer convened a meeting between Gallagher’s family from Long Island and Navy Secretary Richard Spencer to make the case for naming a warship after their uncle. Just before St. Patrick’s Day, the Navy announced they would name one of their next Arleigh Burke-class destroyers after Lance Cpl. Gallagher.