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Owens supported bill to avert federal shutdown

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In an effort to stave off a looming shutdown of the federal government, Rep. William L. Owens, D-Plattsburgh, voted 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 have already been authorized.

Mr. Owens said he views the resolution passed by the House of Representatives as a necessary step toward ensuring the federal government avoids a shutdown. The government could shut down March 27 when a previous continuing resolution expires.

Wednesday’s 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 towards 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 data 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.

“The continuing resolution [passed by the House] helps the government solve its ongoing problems. We then have to see how the public responds to what sequestration actually does. That’s when the pressure will rise,” Mr. Owens said.

Mr. Owens said he believes federal spending does need to be addressed, but we need to “cut smarter” instead of cutting across the board the way sequestration has.

The resolution passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 267 to 151 and the Senate will begin deliberations in the coming days.

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