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Gillibrand: If I'm not helping people I should go home

August 10, 2017 12:08 AM

TROY - There were serious moments and there were light-hearted moments inside the McDonough Sports Complex Wednesday night where Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D - NY) met, mingled, and spokes with constituents.

The loudest cheer of the night came when Gillibrand mentioned the names Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, two of three republican senators who recently crossed party lines to kill the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

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The most light-hearted moment came when a woman asked Gillibrand what she is doing to cross party lines. Gillibrand's response: I made dinner last week for Ted Cruz.

Of all the questions and concerns that constituents shared Wednesday night with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand at a town hall style meeting, she says she heard loudly and clearly what was on their collective minds.

"I think the biggest take away is that people are very worried about access to affordable health care," Gillibrand stated.

To that end, New York's junior senator told the mostly partisan crowd at Hudson Valley Community College what they already knew; that health care needs immediate reform.

"The truth of the matter is when you build a health care system on a for-profit system, you're really never going to get to affordability if you have universal care," she said. "If you don't have at least one not-for-profit public option, you're never going to drive the cost down. I'd like to see health care reform focus on taking on drug pricing and taking away monopolies."

During the hour long town meeting, Gillibrand also touched on climate change, energy independence, and pension issues.

"I did learn some things but I think it was important for her to be here to hear upstate New York point of views," said Eric Breimer, of East Greenbush.

Breimer's 14 year old son Thomas was also in attendance, even though he's not old enough to vote.

"I just wanted to be informed about the issues impacting our country and be prepared," Thomas Breimer said.

Also in the crowd, 10-year old Shannon Breimer.

"At this age, it's kind of hard for me to understand," Shannon said. "I'm just really happy that she let them ask questions because that's really nice."

Sarah Jones of Guilderland, who recently returned from Germany where she was an exchange student, and where she met many refugee families, said she wanted to hear more about the plight of Syrian refugees.

"It perplexes me that as big of a country as we are that we don't take in more people and we don't do what we can to help these people who are in such a terrible situation," she says.

Gillibrand says when she hears the passion that people feel, it makes her "fight even harder for them".

"My first obligation is to help people," the senator states, "If I'm not helping people I should just go home."

On other topics, here's what Gillibrand had to say.

ENERGY INDEPENDENCE

"We should have energy independence in this country. It is absurd that in this day and age we are still buying oil from Saudi Arabi."

"We are good at inventing things. This country invented wind energy. We invented solar. We invented geo-thermal. We did all these things and what happened is we didn't invest in them. We didn't invest in the last decade and what's happening? Do you know whose making (solar panels and wind mills) today? China. They are eating our lunch and it's outrageous."

NORTH KOREA

"I'm very concerned by the statements of both President Trump and Kim Jung Un. I"M concerned that saber rattling is not the right approach right now. We need political and diplomatic solutions on the table and we need to work harder to bring the level of the temperature down."

WHAT'S WRONG WITH NEW YORK STATE?

"This state elected a democratic state senate. It should be led by a democrat and it should be controlled by the democrats. And if it was, we would have more progressive bipartisan proposals passing our legislature."

Credits

Dan Levy

Copyright 2017 - WNYT-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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