Higgins Announces Win for Hooker Chemical Workers; Invites Former Employees & Their Families to U.S. Department of Labor Session in Niagara Falls

Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) announced that the U.S. Department of Labor will host a resource session for former employees of Hooker Electrochemical Corporation to provide information on the newly designated Special Exposure Cohort and assist eligible parties with the filing of claims for compensation.  On September 22, 2015 the U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary designated that certain cases for compensation would be considered under a Special Exposure Cohort rather than the arduous “dose reconstruction” process previously required. 

“In their service to this nation, Hooker Chemical workers have paid a significant price, costing lives and resulting in suffering for employees and their families,” said Congressman Higgins.  “This new designation creates a much less burdensome application process for those seeking the compensation they deserve.”

The Special Exposure Cohort is extended to atomic weapons employees who worked at Hooker Chemical, for a minimum of 250 days, between July 1, 1944 and December 31, 1948 and were diagnosed with one of 22 specified cancers.  

During the Cold War era, workers at Hooker Chemical and other facilities helped build the nuclear arsenal.  Without adequate monitoring or protection, many were exposed to significant levels of radiation.  Under the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program qualifying employees whose claims are granted are entitled to $150,000 in compensation. 

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation division will be available to answer questions, assist with new claims and update existing claims on: 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

9:00AM – 12:00PM


1:30PM – 4:30PM

at the

FourPoints by Sheraton Niagara Falls

7001 Buffalo Ave

Niagara Falls, NY


As of November 22, 2015, 608 claims have been filed by former employees or their families.  To date only 35 claims have been approved.  The previously required “dose reconstruction” process is especially difficult since many of the records necessary either never existed or are no longer available.   This new designation will allow for the approval of many more claims. 

Congressman Higgins has a long record of fighting for Atomic Workers.  Working closely with former Bethlehem Steel employees, Higgins fought for Washington to listen to the former workers and at his request the Advisory Board on Radiation and Worker Health agreed to host a meeting in Western New York.  After reviewing the evidence and hearing from local families the Board agreed to grant a Special Exposure Cohort for Bethlehem Steel, allowing local families to get the compensation they deserve.  To date, former Bethlehem Steel workers have been awarded close to $234 million for compensation and medical expenses. 

Constituents who can’t make the meeting and are in need of more information on eligibility criteria or the claims process can call Congressman Higgins’ office at: 716-852-3501.  


Next Phase of Multi-Million Dollar Transformation Underway at Buffalo Harbor State Park

Renderings of the project available here, here and here

Governor Cuomo announced the start of construction work on the small boat harbor breakwall and southern revetment, which is the next phase of the multi-million dollar transformation of Buffalo Harbor State Park. The $3.76 million breakwall and revetment redesign is phase two of the $15 million in improvements provided through the Governor‘s Buffalo Billion and NY Parks 2020 initiatives to completely reinvigorate the Buffalo Harbor waterfront.

“This is an important milestone in Buffalo’s revitalization, one that will expand outdoor access to the waterfront and bring recreational and investment opportunities to the region, “said Governor Cuomo. “I am proud of the continued progress of this project, one of many examples of a city on the move.”

The rehabilitated breakwall will be stabilized and include paved walking and bike paths, shaded seating areas, the introduction of a fishing platform and lighting. The southern revetment will also be rehabilitated and like the breakwall, will be stabilized and feature increased fishing access. The southern revetment is expected to be complete by summer 2016, and the breakwall by fall 2016. View the newest improvements here.

State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey said: “Parks and green spaces have a tremendous, unparalleled power to enhance communities, and I thank Governor Cuomo for championing this new park for the wonderful city of Buffalo and for all the exciting changes yet to come.”

This year more than 107,000 people visited the state’s newest 190-acre park and enjoyed $3 million in improvements already completed. These new features include two open-air picnic pavilions that can host 100 people in each pavilion, a nautically themed destination playground revered by the community, new park furnishings including shaded seating, lighting, improved fish cleaning station, landscaping, walkways and utility upgrades.

Congressman Brian Higgins said: “Last year’s opening of the first State park in the City of Buffalo created a great new waterfront destination for Western New York families. We were pleased to work closely with Governor Cuomo who understood the value and long-term vision of transferring this property into the capable hands of New York State Parks. This significant investment by the State provides a huge boost to the momentum building on Buffalo’s Outer Harbor and will give the public fantastic new opportunities to experience Buffalo’s waterfront.”

Senator Tim Kennedy said: “Buffalo's waterfront continues to get better and better. The word is getting out about Buffalo's greatest natural resource, and New York State is doing its part to responsibly guide the Outer Harbor's revitalization. From bike paths, to increased fishing, to improved lighting, this next phase in the transformation of Buffalo Harbor State Park is going to make a huge difference. I thank Governor Cuomo for his continued dedication to Western New York, and I thank New York State Parks for their excellent stewardship of this regional gem."

Senator Marc Panepinto said: "Buffalo's greatest natural asset continues to experience a transformation like never before. Thanks to the dedicated efforts of Governor Cuomo, families will be able to enjoy recreational activities along our waterfront year-round. I encourage all residents to get out and experience the results of those efforts and all those still yet to come."

Assemblywoman Crystal D. Peoples-Stokes said: “I would like to congratulate Gov. Cuomo and WNY State Parks Dept. on enhancing the recreational capabilities and park access for Western New Yorkers. We love our waterfront and we love our green space, these improvements will help promote exercise and healthy living while increasing park utilization.”

Assemblyman Sean Ryan said: "Public access to the water is my top priority for waterfront development. This project helps to achieve that goal, and will greatly expand the public's ability to enjoy Buffalo's magnificent waterfront. I thank Governor Cuomo for moving forward with this important investment. A revitalized Outer Harbor, focused on public access, will be a catalyst for growth in the new Buffalo. With the Queen City Bike Ferry now connecting Canalside to the Outer Harbor, investing in public amenities at the Buffalo Harbor State Park is a smart strategy, and I look forward to seeing the completed project next year."

Under Governor Cuomo's leadership, New York State is making a historic commitment to improving and expanding access to outdoor recreation. The Governor's NY Parks 2020 plan is a multi-year commitment to leverage $900 million in private and public funding for State Parks from 2011 to 2020. The Governor's 2015-16 Executive Budget allocates $110 million toward this initiative.

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees 180 state parks and 35 historic sites, which are visited by 62 million people annually. A recent study found that New York State Parks generates $1.9 billion in economic activity annually and supports 20,000 jobs. For more information on any of these recreation areas, call 518-474-0456 or visit, connect on Facebook, or follow on Twitter. 



Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) recognized the struggles of families facing Alzheimer’s disease and the supportive role of the Alzheimer’s Association of Western New York on the Floor of the House of Representatives this week. November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month as well as National Family Caregivers’ Month, dedicated to those caring for a family member with chronic conditions, disabilities, disease, or in old age.

Alzheimer’s disease is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States. One in three seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. Alzheimer’s is the only leading cause of death in the United States that cannot be prevented, cured, or slowed.

In 1983, President Ronald Reagan designated November as National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month. At the time, fewer than 2 million Americans had Alzheimer’s. Today, nearly 5.4 million people have been diagnosed with the disease.

(To view click above or go to:

Text of Congressman Higgins’ remarks below:

Mr. Speaker: I rise to recognize the work of the Alzheimer’s Association of Western New York.

Five point three million Americans and their families are living with Alzheimer’s. That number is expected to triple by 2050. Two-thirds of Americans with Alzheimer’s are women, and 200,000 are under the age of 65.

In Western New York 55,000 people have Alzheimer's or a related dementia. Last year the Alzheimer's Association of Western New York provided 10,000 service contacts for those patients, and is an invaluable resource to Western New York families.

Alzheimer’s is a disease whose cause is unknown but whose end is absolutely certain. This House must work together to increase funding for the Alzheimer’s research and we must support the caregivers and volunteers who make a difference for millions of Americans and their families.

Congressman Higgins is a member of the Alzheimer’s Task Force and co-founded the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Caucus to increase funding for medical research. In a touching example of how Alzheimer’s disease and the stress of being a caregiver affects family members, Congressman Higgins recently worked with the Department of Housing and Urban Development and community members to move 90 year old World War II veteran Johnnie Hodges back into his home on Humboldt Parkway in Buffalo. Mr. Hodges was forced to leave his home of 60 years after falling behind on bills due to caring for his ailing wife, who had dementia.

For more information about Alzheimer’s and dementia, please visit the Alzheimer’s Association of Western New York’s website at, or call their office at 716.626.0600.



Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) spoke on the House Floor today about the importance of extending the Solar Investment Tax Credit. If Congress does not act to extend it, the credit will expire in 2016.

Since its passage in 2005 as part of the Energy Policy Act, the Solar Investment Tax Credit has been extended twice, for one year through the Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006 and for eight years through the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act in 2008.

The Solar Investment Tax Credit encourages private investment in solar manufacturing and solar project construction. The largest solar panel manufacturing plant in the Western Hemisphere, the SolarCity GigaFactory, is currently under construction on the former RiverBend brownfield site in Buffalo.

To view click above or go to:

Text of Congressman Higgins’ remarks below:

Mr. Speaker: Since Congress passed the Solar Investment Tax Credit in 2005, solar installations have grown by 1,600%. Americans have invested $72 billion in solar. And 8,000 businesses in all 50 states have created 160,000 jobs in the solar industry.

Much of this economic success story is due to the Investment Tax Credit, which is scheduled to expire at the end of next year.  If the Investment Tax Credit expires the solar industry could see a 71% decline, needlessly costing the American economy 100,000 jobs.

This uncertainty is already affecting the market. Consumers need confidence in the tax policy before they decide whether to make an investment into the solar industry.

I ask my colleagues to join me in urging the Ways and Means Committee to expeditiously prioritize a long term extension of this critical, job-creating tax incentive.

Congressman Higgins is a strong advocate for initiatives supporting the expansion and use of solar power. In October, he joined Rep. Richard Hanna (NY-22) to introduce legislation aimed at demonstrating the benefits of net metering. In April he spoke again on the House Floor in favor of the Solar Ready Vets Program to provide veterans with job training and opportunities in the solar industry.


Community Welcomes WWII Veteran Johnnie Hodges Home

Members of the community gathered to welcome Johnnie Hodges, Sr. back to the house he has called home for more than 60 years.  In July, the 90 year-old World War II veteran was carried out of his home after falling behind in paying the bills while caring for his ailing wife.  After hearing his story, people from across Western New York and the country came together to help Mr. Hodges return to his home. 

"I watched my father exhibit unshakeable faith during a difficult transitional period of his life as a husband, caregiver and great father,” said Mr. Hodges daughter Robin Hodges.  “During this journey, I personally witnessed many miracles right before my eyes!  The scripture states: The blessing of the LORD makes one rich, and He adds no sorrow to it. (Proverbs 10:22 NKJV) On this arduous journey there was no sorrow in our lives...ONLY FAITH in the Lord. To God be the Glory!"

“The best way to thank our veterans is through actions that demonstrate we appreciate their sacrifices and we are here to support them at home,” said Congressman Brian Higgins.  “We are happy to play a role in this homecoming which was made possible thanks to HUD’s guidance and through the actions of many who came forward in gratitude.” 

"It has been gratifying to partner with so many people committed to helping Mr. Hodges and his daughter purchase and return to their long-time home," said Holly Leicht, HUD's Regional Administrator for New York and New Jersey. "Thanks particularly to Congressman Higgins' office, Lou Michel at The Buffalo News, countless benefactors who rallied to Mr. Hodges' cause, and the staff at HUD's Homeownership Center, today we at HUD can proudly say that we've fulfilled our mission to provide quality affordable housing for someone among the most deserving - a U.S. Veteran - and his family.”

Mr. Hodges began his service with the United States Navy on January 8, 1944 and following training in Bainbridge, Maryland, was stationed aboard the USS General Harry Taylor.  Hodges served as a Stewards Mate Third Class on the troop transport ship during World War II, taking part in missions across the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans until his honorable discharge on June 17, 1946. 

Johnnie Hodges first settled in Boston, Massachusetts, where he met the love of this life, Flora Middlebrooks.  Prior to their marriage, he applied for and was offered a position at the Bethlehem Steel Plant in Lackawanna, NY.  In December of 1948, Johnnie and Flora bought their first home on East Utica Street in Buffalo.   In 1956, the Hodges were looking for a bigger house and purchased a beautiful new home on Humboldt Parkway. 

The dedication and work ethic Mr. Hodges groomed in the Navy helped him flourish here at home.  While working at Bethlehem Steel he became the first African-American to serve as foreman in the coke oven division.  In addition, Johnnie and Flora were entrepreneurs, owning a successful delicatessen on Jefferson Avenue from 1965 until 1973.  After retirement from Bethlehem Steel in 1983 Mr. Hodges worked part-time as a school bus driver for Laidlaw for over 25 years, until retiring at the age of 85 to care for his wife, Flora whose health was declining due to Alzheimer’s disease. 

"Caring for a person with Alzheimer's disease requires years of strength, dedication and the kind of boundless resiliency that often requires everything else be put second. It is a long, uncertain and demanding journey under even the best of circumstances,” said Leilani Pelletier, Executive Director of the Alzheimer’s Association of WNY.  “Mr. and Mrs. Hodges fought a battle that thousands of our neighbors are fighting right now. I hope that their story will ignite in each caregiver, each neighbor, each citizen the awareness of the kind of strength Alzheimer's demands and that we are never truly alone.  My deepest respect goes to Mr. Hodges. Welcome home to the place where boundless love and endless dedication has so obviously lived. "

With attention focused on health issues, the Hodges fell behind in their bills and faced foreclosure.  After appearing in The Buffalo News, Mr. Hodges’ story spread and people from near and far came forward looking to help.  Enough donations came in through a GoFundMe account to buy the home back and make much needed repairs to the property.  Congressman Higgins’ office with great cooperation from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development worked to guide the family through the process of reacquisition. 

Greg Elwood, GoFundMe Campaign Organizer said, "This was an amazing experience for me. My sincere hope is that the campaign serves as an example of the great things that happen when people come together around a common cause."

On November 6, 2015 the Hodges family thanked all who came forward to help as the community welcomed them back to the Humboldt Parkway home.  


Congressman Higgins Announces $6.2 Million Grant for the University At Buffalo’s Women’s Health Initiative

Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) announced the State University of New York at Buffalo (UB) has been awarded $6.2 million in federal funding through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) toward continuation of the Women’s Health Initiative at UB. 

“For over two decades the Women’s Health Initiative has provided insight into some of the most challenging health issues for women and informed health decisions and new treatments that extend and improve lives,” said Higgins, founder and co-chair of the Congressional NIH Caucus.  “This significant investment demonstrates the confidence the NIH has in UB research and will support their work in this area for another 5 years.”

The federal grant, supported through the NIH’s National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, continues UB’s role as one of a select few designated Regional Centers included in the Women’s Health Initiative.  The project is one of the largest clinical trials focused on examining and preventing heart disease, cancer and osteoporotic fractures in women over 50 years of age.   

“As a society, we are aging.  What we learn from these women will help the next generation of women and society in understanding these issues,” says Jean Wactawski-Wende, UB’s lead WHI investigator and dean of the university’s School of Public Health and Health Professions. “The research that comes from a study of this breadth – the large number of participants and the length of follow up – is remarkable,” she adds. 

UB was named one of 13 original sites nationwide selected to operate as a clinical center when the Women’s Health Initiative was first initiated in the early 1990’s.  The University received $13 million through the program for participation and research spanning from 1993-2010.  UB was again chosen for the Women’s Health Initiative extension study, receiving an additional $8 million and becoming one of just 10 regional centers authorized for participation in a consolidated program through 2015.   This latest award will renew UB’s role in the national Women’s Health Initiative and bring the total federal commitment to $27 million, which has leveraged millions more in outside funding


Higgins, Collins & Slaughter Want the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station to be New Home for KC-135 Mission

Congressmembers Brian Higgins (NY-26), Chris Collins (NY-27) and Louise Slaughter (NY-25) are urging the United States Air Force to consider the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station (NFARS) as a new base for operation of the KC-135 mission. 

“The KC-135 mission has a history in Niagara Falls and we want it to have a future here too,” said Congressman Higgins.  “It’s important to continue to look at ways the station here can evolve to meet the needs of today and tomorrow and strengthen its significance in the system.  The Niagara Falls base has critical infrastructure and personnel to make this a perfect fit.” 

“Niagara Falls Air Force Base has the personnel and critical infrastructure to successfully support the KC-135 mission,” said Congressman Collins. “I am happy to partner with my Congressional colleagues as we work towards modernizing the base’s mission and making this base BRAC-proof.”

“As New Yorkers, we have always stood ready to answer the call to serve,” said Rep. Slaughter. “One of the proudest events of my time in Congress was representing the Niagara falls reserve station, known nationwide for its extraordinary work. With a proud military tradition and leading modern capabilities, Western New York is ideally positioned to continue advancing our national defense by hosting the KC-135 mission. I am proud to stand with my fellow New Yorkers and am especially grateful to my friend Brian Higgins for his leadership on this issue.”

The KC-135 Stratotanker has been the primary refueling aircraft for the United States Air Force for 60 years.  The Air Force may be looking to rebase some of the KC-135 tankers as some existing sites transition to the new KC-46. 

According to a 2012 report, the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station supports close to 3,300 jobs and has a total economic impact of more than $200 million annually. 

Below is the text of the letter sent by Reps. Higgins, Collins & Slaughter:

October 29, 2015


General Carlton D. Everhart
Air Mobility Command
402 Scott Drive, Unit 3EC
Scott Air Force Base, Illinois 62225-5310

Dear General Everhart,

As the United States Air Force (USAF) changes and modernizes to meet new mission requirements and emerging national security challenges, we remain committed to ensuring that the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station (NFARS) continues to play an integral role in this process by providing it with an enduring mission that effectively leverages its high quality workforce, infrastructure and location.

Since transitioning to the C-130 mission, the 914th Airlift Wing of the Air Force Reserve and the 107th Airlift Wing  of the Air National Guard have made immense contributions to USAF’s global mobility mission, conducting thousands of cargo lift operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and domestically.  The 914th currently flies 8 C-130 H2 aircraft while the 107th is transitioning to a Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) mission.

However, as the USAF endeavors to draw down its aging C-130 fleet, we believe it is an opportune time to consider a new and enduring mission that will take advantage of NFARS’ existing capabilities.

To that end, along with New York State, we strongly supported NFARS’ selection as the site for the KC-46A’s third main operating base (MOB-3). While NFARS was not down-selected to host this new generation of refueling tankers, key tanker infrastructure exists at the base that would make NFARS an ideal candidate for the KC-135, which will remain a key cog in the USAF’s air refueling capability as efforts to recapitalize the tanker fleet undergo acquisition delays.

Enhancing its merit, the 107th Air Refueling Wing previously supported the KC-135 mission, having flown this airframe for over a decade until it transitioned to the cargo lift mission following the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process. To that end, NFARS retains much of the key tanker infrastructure, including fuel storage, fuel dispensing, and reinforced runway and ramp. We believe that an USAF review of the infrastructure would confirm that minimal expenditures would be required to reprise these assets. We invite you to visit NFARS in the near future in order to examine these capabilities, and are confident you will see its viability for the KC-135 mission.

As the largest employer in Niagara County and a key part of our national security infrastructure, we remain committed to ensuring NFARS is well positioned to contribute to the national defense now and in the future.   We greatly appreciate your continued support and look forward to working with you as the rebasing of the KC-135 moves forward. 



Brian Higgins                                      Louise M. Slaughter                          Chris Collins                                

Member of Congress                       Member of Congress                        Member of Congress


CC: Lieutenant General James Jackson
Chief of the Air Force Reserve
1150 Air Force Pentagon, Room 4 D 762
Washington, DC 20330-1150


Higgins Announces House Passage of Northern Border Security Review Act

(To access video click above or go to:

Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) announced that the House of Representatives has approved the Northern Border Security Review Act (H.R. 455), a bill introduced by Rep. John Katko and cosponsored by Higgins.  

“Comprehensive and current information is critical as we determine what resources are needed and how we might shape policy to best protect our northern border,” said Congressman Higgins.  “Through this bipartisan effort we will gain a clearer picture of where we stand today and how we can improve efficiencies and security moving forward.”

The legislation requires the Homeland Security Secretary to complete a northern border threat analysis that includes the following: 

  • current and potential terrorism threats posed by individuals seeking to enter the United States through the northern border
  • improvements needed at ports of entry along the northern border to prevent terrorists and instruments of terror from entering the United States
  • staffing challenges in meeting northern border threats
  • gaps in law, policy, international agreements, or tribal agreements that hinder the border security and counterterrorism efforts along the northern border
  • illegal cross border activity between ports of entry, including the maritime borders of the Great Lakes
  • the scope of border security challenges that shall include the terrain, population density, and climate along the northern border
  • whether additional preclearance and pre-inspection by U.S. Customs and Border Protection at ports of entry along the northern border could help prevent terrorists and their instruments from entering the United States


The bill includes amendments, introduced by Higgins, which incorporates reviews of staffing needs and pre-inspection considerations.  Under the legislation the threat assessment would be completed within six months. 

Congressman Higgins is Co-Chair of the Congressional Northern Border Caucus and a member of the House Committees on Foreign Affairs and Homeland Security.  His Western New York district includes three automobile and two rail crossings between the United States and Canada.  


Higgins Announces House Passage of Bill Reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank

Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) announced the House of Representatives has approved legislation reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank.  The charter for the Export-Import Bank, first established in 1934 and renewed by Congress in 2012, expired in June.   In the meantime U.S. businesses were left without Export-Import bank resources to assist American businesses compete against foreign companies and provide credit to facilitate the sale of American goods abroad.

“Globally, eighty-five export credit agencies exist providing foreign companies large capital subsidies to undermine “Made in America” goods,” said Higgins.  “The Export-Import Bank levels the playing field, allowing for American businesses and workers to remain internationally competitive.  It is fiscally irresponsible and economically shortsighted to hang up the “closed” sign on an institution that helps U.S. businesses grow.”

Last November Congressman Higgins joined Senator Kirsten Gillibrand for a roundtable discussion in Niagara Falls with the President of the Export-Import Bank and Western New York leaders.  In April Higgins signed the discharge petition which forced a vote on the measure and in May, Higgins spoke on the House Floor urging renewal of the program. 

Since 2013 alone a dozen companies within Congressman Higgins’ district received support through the Export-Import Bank yielding over $35.45 million in export sales and supporting hundreds of local jobs.   

Legislation, approved by the House this week, reauthorizes the Export-Import Bank through FY2019.  For more information on the Export-Import Bank of the United States visit:  


Congressman Higgins Announces $18 Million TIGER Grant for Cars Sharing Main Street Project

Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) announced $18 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation for the Cars Sharing Main Street project.  The funding is provided through the FY 2015 Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program.   Congressman Higgins supported Buffalo’s application for the funding. 

“This federal award provides a huge boost to sustaining positive momentum in the City of Buffalo,” said Congressman Higgins.  “The growth in the Theater District demonstrates that returning cars to Main Street is also returning retail to Main Street.  With this federal funding we provide greater access to Canalside which will strengthen the success of Canalside and boost private investment along the Main Street spine.”

The grant will support work to return cars to lower Main Street from Exchange Street to Scott Street and a new Metro Rail track crossover between Scott and Perry.  The total cost for this section of work is $22.5 million with state and local matching funding providing the balance after the $18 million federal contribution. 

This award brings the total federal investment in the Cars Sharing Main Street project to over $43.2 million:

  • 700 block federal: $1,765,738; 700 block total: $2,207,172
  • 600 block federal: $8,534,000; 600 block total: $21,000,000
  • 500 block federal: $15,000,000; 500 block total: 18,750,000
  • Total prior federal investment: $25,299,740
  • Lower Main federal: $18, 000,000; Lower Main Total: $22,500,000
  • New total federal investment: $43,299,740




Meanwhile the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority recently unveiled the Canalside & Cobblestone Access Enhancement Study which considers options for extension of the Metro Rail to the DL&W Terminal.  Congressman Higgins supports the effort and is also advocating Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation to make the investments necessary to the 2nd Floor of the DL&W Terminal to make the property development-ready. 




Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) spoke on the House Floor advocating for legislation that would create a more accurate formula to determine the annual Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for those who receive Social Security retirement benefits.  The bill, the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly (CPI-E) Act of 2015 (H.R. 3351), would result in a more accurate measure of the cost of living for seniors.

“Social Security and other federal retirement programs are an important safety net for our nation’s seniors,” said Congressman Brian Higgins. “They’ve worked hard their entire lives for these benefits, and they should not have to worry about pinching pennies during their retirement.”

On October 15th, the Social Security Administration announced that seniors and disabled individuals would not receive a COLA in 2016.  Since 1975, when the COLA was introduced, recipients have not received a COLA three times.  All three have come since 2010, suggesting the formula no longer reflects the spending habits of seniors.

The annual COLA is intended to make sure benefits keep pace with inflation.  Each year, the Social Security Administration calculates COLA based on a formula determined by the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which measures the cost of living for working families.  However, seniors have different spending patterns than working families.  A greater percentage of their income goes towards housing and health care, the prices of which tend to rise more quickly.  In 2013, national health care spending in the United States averaged $9,255 per person, an 89.5 percent increase than the amount in 2000.

(To access video click above or go to:

The text of Congressman Higgins’ remarks is below:

Mr. Speaker: Last week the Social Security Administration announced that there would be no cost of living adjustment for Social Security benefits next year. 

This news has seniors in Western New York worried. The price of food, housing, health care have increased. Without a corresponding increase in benefits seniors will be asked to do more with less. 

The formula used to determine cost of living adjustments is not properly reflecting the senior economy. Seniors spend more on housing, food and medical care and less on travel and education.

That’s why I support legislation to adopt a new formula, called the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly, that would give weight to price increases in housing and medical care and more accurately reflect the costs incurred by seniors. 

Unless Congress acts, the incomes of sixty million Americans will be effectively reduced. That would be bad for our economy and worse for the vulnerable Americans we are here to protect.

In addition to the legislation, last week, Congressman Higgins joined other members in sending a letter to Social Security Commissioner Carolyn Colvin, expressing concern that Social Security beneficiaries will not receive a COLA in 2016 and urging the Commissioner to support a COLA increase for the elderly. 157,698 people in Congressman Higgins’ district receive Social Security benefits.


House of Representatives Approves Congressman Higgins’ Bill Requiring A Threat Assessment of Hazardous Materials Transported in the U.S.

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The House of Representatives approved a bill introduced by Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) requiring a threat assessment on the transportation of chemical, biological, nuclear, and radiological materials through U.S. land borders and within the United States. 

“Terrorists and militant groups have expressed an interest in using highly dangerous weapons, especially those utilizing chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear, known as CBRN agents or materials,” said Higgins.   “This bill gives federal agencies the information they need to make decisions and develop policies that are informed by the terrorism threat picture.” 

The Know the CBRN Terrorism Threats to Transportation Act (H.R.3350) directs the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis to conduct a terrorism threat assessment in consultation with U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Transportation Security Administration within 90 days of enactment of the bill and requires that the findings are shared with federal, state and local partners. 

Higgins’s bill comes in response to a plan by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to begin the transport of highly-enriched liquid uranium from Chalk River Ontario to the DOE’s Savannah Energy River site in Aiken, South Carolina via the Peace Bridge in 2016.  Congressman Higgins’ Western New York district borders Lake Erie and Canada and includes two northern border rail crossings and three automobile crossings, including the Peace Bridge, the busiest passenger crossing on the northern border and the second busiest cargo point of entry.  In addition, the route crosses the Niagara River, which feeds Niagara Falls and connects two of the Great Lakes, which in its entirety contains 95% of the surface fresh water in the United States.  Higgins argues that an attack, or even an accident involving one of these trucks, would have catastrophic consequences.

Higgins, a member of the House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security, began the push for a threat assessment in 2014 with a letter to the Department of Energy and won approval for an amendment to HR 2200 the Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) Intelligence and Information Sharing Act of 2015 earlier this year.