Canadian funds for bridge to expire

Looking north toward Cornwall Island, the Seaway International Bridge was previously known as the Cornwall-Massena International Bridge. Christopher Lenney/Watertown Daily Times

MASSENA — The $1.5 million in aid money set aside for the Seaway International Bridge in the latest round of federal COVID-19 aid legislation has been scrapped, reportedly because Rep. Elise M. Stefanik didn’t advocate for its inclusion.

While the House passed a version of the bill that included the money in late February, the Senate is still workshopping its version. On Tuesday, it was announced the Senate version would not include the bridge funding.

The $1.5 million was meant to make up for revenue losses caused by a steep drop in paid car and truck travel across the bridge because of the ongoing U.S.-Canada border crossing restrictions.

Multiple media outlets, including The Hill, have reported that Senate sources confirmed the Seaway Bridge’s funding was dropped in the Senate bill because Rep. Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, refused to advocate for its inclusion.

Rep. Stefanik voted against the House bill last month, along with every other House Republican.

Karoline Leavitt, spokesperson for the congresswoman, said Wednesday that the bill was wholly unacceptable and included far too much spending unrelated to the coronavirus pandemic.

“(Rep. Stefanik’s) steadfast support of the north country’s critical infrastructure does not change the unacceptable fact that only 9% of funding in Speaker (Nancy P.) Pelosi and President (Joseph R.) Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan goes towards public health measures,” she said in an email statement.

She said Rep. Stefanik also took issue with the proposal that would grant stimulus checks to undocumented immigrants and another measure in the aid bill that would establish a $15 minimum wage. Ms. Leavitt said the congresswoman also disapproves of the fact that the aid package contains no funding for workforce training.

She said the congresswoman has already secured more than $75 million in federal funding for the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation, which oversees the Seaway International Bridge Corporation, and $6 million in funding for the bridge itself.

Overall, Ms. Leavitt said that more than $100 million for a transportation project in California, compared to a mere $1.5 million for the Seaway International Bridge, is a “bad, bad deal.”

“It’s an embarrassment that Senators (Charles E.) Schumer and (Kirsten E.) Gillibrand would allow the north country to be used as a desperate political pawn by Nancy Pelosi to jam through her $1.9 trillion bill,” she said.

Republican leaders have focused on the bridge money intensely, alongside another $100 million earmarked for a transportation project in California, in their campaign against the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act announced by President Joseph R. Biden.

They have said the two earmarks are examples of innumerable places in the aid legislation where Democratic lawmakers attempted to use their newfound leadership positions in Washington, D.C., to secure money for their constituents.

“We watched the swamp come back to Washington,” House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said during a news conference last week. “One hundred million for a tunnel in Silicon Valley, just outside of Speaker Pelosi’s district, or a bridge for Schumer.”

The money was actually first requested by former Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao and the Donald Trump administration to make up for the nearly $170,000-per-month losses the toll bridge had experienced as car and truck travel across the U.S.-Canada border remains restricted.

Bridge officials told the Times in late February that the funding was needed to prevent an “adverse impact to vehicular traffic.” They said the money would come from a trust fund that takes money from shipping companies and disburses it for maintenance of transportation infrastructure, and would cover some of the costs of operation between April 1 and Sept. 30.

Officials for the Seaway International Bridge Corporation, which oversees the bridge on behalf of the U.S. and Canadian governments, could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

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I write about north country politics, Jefferson County and the northern shoreline towns of Lyme, Cape Vincent, Clayton and Alexandria Bay

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(15) comments

SESZOO

Just what did that have to do with covid relief and besides wasn't it part of Schumers pork.?

Canmandan6

This article is not correct. It's removal had nothing to do with Stefanic and everything to do with the Senate rules on reconciliation. The Senate parliamentarian ruled on two similar projects, Pelosi’s rail extension project and the Seaway International Bridge allocation. Here is quote as to why these projects were removed from the COVID reconciliation package:

“The Senate Parliamentarian has now ruled that the BART extension from San Jose to Santa Clara does not meet the requirements of the Byrd rule because it is part of a pilot project. Therefore, it will be removed from the reconciliation package,”

A separate $1.5 million allocation for the Seaway International Bridge between Massena, New York, and Canada also will be removed…”

JohnMcElroy

Nearly left this alone for the word reportedly or reported was used 3 times indicating to me doubt the read was so. Although you did not site sources your referral to the reconciliation package gives your post credibility. Thanks.

uncleeddie

Read the article, pro Elise; read the headline, negative Elise. Bias?

zeitgeist

Watch her increasingly respond to the 21st District through the lens, and according to the agenda, of her Republican camp.

Holmes

“her Republican camp” last time I checked she was a Republican. Who do you want her to follow, pelosi, Sandy Cortez?

Kathryn

Her constituents in her Congressional district. ALL her constituents not just those who happen to be conservative Republicans. That's her job by the way

zeitgeist

She just did it again with her vote against the police reform bill. Think about the blood, sweat and tears the nation has gone through for decades to get it passed.

Holmes

Oh, “Senate sources” ok, right! Hmmm, unnamed sources again, who would have predicted that? It passed in the House but the Senate took it out. Aren’t the Senate Majority Leader and Senator Gillibrand, both democrats, members of Senate? They couldn’t push this through? Sounds like they are the ones to blame not Elise. Gotta love the left spin it’s making them dizzy...

Rambo

Holmes—-we agree again. Your comments are right on. Yes the 2 Senators did pull it out. That bill is only giving Covid relief at 9% and the rest is nothing but PORK.

Eagle24

Why did you and Holmes not comment on HOW it got into the bill... " the money was actually first requested by former Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao and the Donald Trump administration to make up for the nearly $170,000-per-month losses the toll bridge had experienced as car and truck travel across the U.S.-Canada border remains restricted." BTW Chao is McConnell's wife... Come on guys... and if you wonder how Chao and Trump learned about the bridge...ask Elise...

JohnMcElroy

Good move Stefanik we need potatoes not paint for a bridge.

elderberry

We need to maintain the infrastructure we have, not let it fall into disrepair.

elderberry

Supporting this would not have hurt her in this District.

Eagle24

Thanks Elise... great job supporting the north country suffering... As long as you haven't personally taken a hit the rest of us will tough it out.. Maybe make another trip to Georgia looking for bogus votes...

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