Reed town hall meeting

U.S. Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning, addresses questions from those in attendance at Saturday’s town hall meeting in Bolivar.

BOLIVAR — Will a Republican-controlled Congress be able to move legislation with a Democratic president who has threatened to stop bills dead in their tracks?

U.S. Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning, told a group of residents who attended the town hall meeting held Saturday in Bolivar that it is possible, but bipartisan support will be key toward approving any legislation President Barack Obama vetoes.

An example of where bipartisan support is currently necessary at the federal level, the congressman said, is on the issue involving the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline — a project that will permit the TransCanada Corp. to move approximately 800,000 barrels a day of Canadian crude through Nebraska to the Gulf Coast refineries.

Both the House of Representatives and the Senate recently approved legislation that will allow the company to build the pipeline; however, the president has threatened to veto it.

The bill is expected to hit Obama’s desk within the next few days, when he will have to determine whether or not he will use his executive power to veto. If the president does veto the bill, a two-thirds vote in the House and the Senate can reverse the decision.

Rep. Reed said congress is getting closer to two-thirds, but he can’t understand why the president wouldn’t support such legislation

In addition to what the House of Representatives is working on as a whole, the congressman said his office will focus on tackling issues with Social Security Disability and property owner rights.

Rep. Reed noted Social Security Disability funding is expected to run out by fall 2016. If Congress doesn’t react to this situation by proposing some type of reform, people who receive Social Security Disability will receive a 20 percent reduction in their benefit check, he said.

“That’s a real problem because a lot of people on Social Security Disability are the catastrophically disabled,” he said. “We’re talking about people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, that are blind and those who have a really serious catastrophic situation. So to have that money dry up is a real problem. Those people who rely on it will have another real problem if they lose that benefit.”

The White House has presented an improper way to address this problem, he said.

“They want to raid Social Security retirement, which is expected to run dry by 2033, in order to bail out Social Security Disability. That’s not right. We can do better than that,” Rep. Reed said. “Why would you take from a program that is in distress already and give it to another program that is already failing?”

The congressman said House members are proposing to take those who are temporarily or only partial disabled out of the Social Security Disability system.

“The system is currently black or white. You’re either disabled or you’re not disabled. There’s no temporary, no partial or permanent disability. It’s all drawn from Social Security,” Rep. Reed said. “We’re proposing that those who are temporarily or partially disabled should be placed into another assistance program that will help them get back on their feet, so they aren’t drawing away from Social Security Disability.”

The congressman said he’ll also be fighting for property owner rights this year, noting he recently introduced the Defense of Property Rights Act in response to recent action taken by New York state government to ban oil and gas drilling.

The law would force the state to pay landowners who were economically hurt by the decision, or other bans imposed by municipalities, according to a press release from Rep. Reed’s office.

“We’re having a big government expansion in American, and one of the things I’m concerned about as we do that is individual property rights are being trampled on,” Rep. Reed said, adding he believes Gov. Andrew Cuomo stripped something of value from the Southern Tier landowners by announcing a ban on oil and gas drilling.

“How the governor came to the decision to ban oil and gas drilling is all politics, and we’re the collateral damage,” he said. “The bill I’m presenting, fights back for the property owners who are losing out because of that decision.”

The bill, Rep. Reed said, would defend private property rights by providing an option for compensation on behalf of those unfairly harmed by government action.

It would also open the judicial process in a more fair and equitable way, he said.

“When a government takes action, such banning oil and gas drilling, it should have to compensate the landowners for that excessive action,” Rep. Reed said. “That may make government second guess or at least seriously question if that is the right step.”

Rep. Reed said the topics he mentioned are only a sampling of issues congress will face this year, noting healthcare — dissolving the Affordable Healthcare Act — and immigration — finding ways to secure the nation’s borders — will also be addressed this year.

(Contact reporter Darlene M. Donohue at ddonohue@oleantimesherald.com)

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