Owens: Furloughs Could Continue In 2014

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Civilian employees at Fort Drum might face additional furloughs in 2014 if the federal budget sequestration continues.

North country Congressman Bill Owens appeared on 7 News at Noon on Monday to discuss a variety of topics, including furloughs.

He said Congress needs to solve the sequestration issue.

"If we don't, then I think we will continue to see furloughs going forward and that's going to be very problematic for the mission at Fort Drum," said Owens.

Fort Drum and civilian union officials said the Department of Defense did not give the local post the option of trimming costs without furloughing federal employees.

We asked Owens why.

"I think there was some question about overall fairness to the entire population of civilian employees. I'm sure if you're a civilian employee who's being laid off 11 days, you don't think that that's fair. I certainly agree with that, but that's where I think the Army was coming from," said Owens.

Owens also criticized the passage of a new farm bill, which he voted against. 

House Republicans pushed through a plan that would provide money for farmers, but doesn't include funding for food stamps.

Owens said spitting food stamps from farming sets a dangerous precedent that will hurt farmers.

He explained that the two issues brought together urban and suburban members of Congress with those who represent farming areas.

"The number of farm members of Congress is declining. So it's very important that we have the support of urban and suburban members. If you separate food stamps out, you're in a very dangerous position that you will be unable to get a farm bill passed as we go forward," said Owens.

He said speciality crop and conservation programs would stand little chance in the future of ever receiving benefits under the farm bill.

Click on the picture to watch the interview.

Sunday, December 21, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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