SYRACUSE, NY (WRVO) – Following President Donald Trump’s visit to Fort Drum and Utica Monday, Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) said he would be willing to host anyone, including the president, if it advances Katko’s agenda for central New York.
Katko has hosted a few members of the Trump administration this summer as he runs for reelection in the 24th Congressional District.
Katko said it was great that Trump went to Fort Drum and highlighted the National Defense Authorization Act, with more than $700 billion in military spending, including pay increases for troops.
“For the first time in a decade they actually got a pay increase of any substance,” Katko said. “After a decade of really bad funding levels, we’re getting it back to where it should be to keep us, as a country, safe and that’s really important.”
The measure also includes funding for the president’s proposed space force and military parade, items anti-Trump protesters in Watertown on Monday lambasted.
“My biggest concern is that we have a strong military to keep us safe at home,” Katko said. “The parade stuff is extraordinarily peripheral to me.”
Recently, Trump advisors and Cabinet members have been making appearances in central New York. Katko has hosted Energy Secretary Rick Perry, the president’s daughter, Ivanka Trump and Vice President Mike Pence to the area, focusing on nuclear energy, workforce development and manufacturing.
Debates and town halls
Katko said his campaign is finalizing the details of three or four debates he will have with his Democratic challenger Dana Balter. He said he will also host a town hall soon. Balter has several town halls planned and she has criticized Katko for not holding an open, public town hall. Katko said he does not want to participate in an event where people just scream and yell.
“I had a town hall that was televised and there’s not a congressman in the country that’s done that,” Katko said. “In that town hall, they got to see even then, that some of the people lacked respect. I’m happy to talk about issues anytime, anywhere. But I’m not going to subject myself and my constituents to a circus. It’s just not going to happen.”
Katko has held telephone town halls and had a televised town hall last year with a random selection of audience members.