Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Texas are holding elections next week. Find out what's on your ballot in our latest report.

Bill Owens

From Ballotpedia
Revision as of 22:16, 19 June 2014 by Fchireynoldsc (Talk | contribs)

Jump to: navigation, search
Bill Owens
Bill owens.jpg
U.S. House, New York, District 21
In office
November 3, 2009-Present
Term ends
January 3, 2015
Years in position 6
PredecessorPaul Tonko (D)
Base salary$174,000/year
Elections and appointments
Last electionNovember 6, 2012
Cost per vote$15.32 in 2012
First electedNovember 3, 2009
Term limitsN/A
Bachelor'sManhattan College
J.D.Fordham University
Military service
Service/branchUnited States Air Force
Date of birthJanuary 20, 1949
Place of birthBrooklyn, New York
ProfessionLawyer, Businessperson
Net worth$1,831,004.50
ReligionRoman Catholic
Office website
Campaign website
Bill Owens (b. January 20, 1949, in Brooklyn, New York) is a Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives representing New York's 21st Congressional District. Owens was first elected to the House in 2009 and is currently serving his second consecutive term, having won re-election on November 6, 2012. Prior to redistricting in 2012, Owens had previously served New York's 23rd Congressional District.

On January 14, 2014, Owens announced that he would not seek re-election to New York's 21st Congressional District in the 2014 midterm elections.[1]

Prior to his announcement, Owens was a member of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's Frontline Program. The program is designed to help protect vulnerable Democratic incumbents heading into the 2014 election.[2]

Before entering politics, Gibson served as a Captain in the U.S. Air Force and built a private law practice in New York.

Based on analysis of multiple outside rankings, Owens is a more moderate left of center Democratic Party vote. As a result, he may break with the Democratic Party line more than his fellow members.


Owens was born in Brooklyn, New York. He earned a B.A. from Manhattan College in 1971 and an M.A. from Fordham University in 1974.[3]


After graduating from law school, Owens enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and served as a Captain at Plattsburgh Air Force Base. After completing his service, Owens decided to stay in the North Country, where he built a private law practice and served as faculty of the State University of New York, from 1978 to 1986.[4]

Committee assignments

U.S. House


Owens serves on the following committees:[5]


Owens served on the following committees:[6]

Key votes

113th Congress


The second session of the 113th Congress enacted into law 114 out of the 3,036 introduced bills (3.8 percent). Comparatively, the 112th Congress had 4.2 percent of introduced bills enacted into law in the second session.[7] For more information pertaining to Owens's voting record in the 113th Congress, please see the below sections.[8]

National security


Voted "Yes" Owens voted in support of HR 1960 - the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014. The bill passed the House on June 14, 2013, with a vote of 315 - 108. Both parties were somewhat divided on the vote.[9]

DHS Appropriations

Voted "Yes" Owens voted in support of HR 2217 - the DHS Appropriations Act (2014) Act of 2014. The bill passed the House on June 6, 2013, with a vote of 245 - 182 and was largely along party lines.[9]

Keystone Pipeline Amendment

Voted "No" Owens voted in opposition of House Amendment 69, which would have amended HR 3 to "require that the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, in consultation with the Department of Homeland Security, conduct a study of the vulnerabilities of the Keystone XL pipeline to a terrorist attack and certify that necessary protections have been put in place." The amendment failed on May 22, 2013, with a vote of 176 - 239 and was largely along party lines.[9]

CISPA (2013)

Voted "Yes" Owens voted in support of HR 624 - the CISPA (2013). The bill passed the House on April 18, 2013, with a vote of 288 - 127. The bill would allow federal intelligence agencies to share cybersecurity intelligence and information with private entities and utilities.[10] The bill was largely supported by Republicans, but divided the Democratic Party.[9]


2013 Farm Bill

See also: United States Farm Bill 2013

Voted "No" The comprehensive farm bill failed in the House due largely in part to the votes of 8 Democratic House members who joined the Republican majority to vote down the measure.[11] Reps. Collin Peterson, John Barrow, Bishop, Cheri Bustos, Sean Maloney, Mike McIntyre, Owens, and Tim Walz were the 8 Democratic members who voted to reject the bill.[11] According to analysis by, many of these Democratic members have received significant political contributions from agricultural organizations that benefit from crop insurance subsidies.[11] Five of the eight are on the House Agriculture Committee--Peterson, Bustos, Maloney, McIntyre, and Walz-- from which agribusiness firms routinely target committee members with sizable contributions.[11]

Government shutdown

See also: United States budget debate, 2013

Voted "No" On September 30, 2013, the House passed a final stopgap spending bill before the shutdown went into effect. The bill included a one-year delay of the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate and would have also stripped the bill of federal subsidies for congressional members and staff. It passed through the House with a vote of 228-201.[12] At 1 a.m. on October 1, 2013, one hour after the shutdown officially began, the House voted to move forward with going to a conference. In short order, Sen. Harry Reid rejected the call to conference.[13] Owens voted against the stopgap spending bill that would have delayed the individual mandate.[14]

Voted "Yes" The shutdown finally ended on October 16, 2013, when the House took a vote on HR 2775 after it was approved by the Senate. The bill to reopen the government lifted the $16.7 trillion debt limit and funded the government through January 15, 2014. Federal employees also received retroactive pay for the shutdown period. The only concession made by Senate Democrats was to require income verification for Obamacare subsidies.[15] The House passed the legislation shortly after the Senate, by a vote of 285-144, with all 144 votes against the legislation coming from Republican members. Owens voted for HR 2775.[16]


Morton Memos Prohibition

Voted "No" Owens voted against House Amendment 136 - Prohibits the Enforcement of the Immigration Executive Order. The amendment was adopted by the House on June 6, 2013, with a vote of 224 - 201. The purpose of the amendment as stated on the official text is to "prohibit the use of funds to finalize, implement, administer, or enforce the Morton Memos." These memos would have granted administrative amnesty to certain illegal aliens residing in the United States.[17] The vote largely followed party lines.[18]


Repealing Obamacare

Voted "No" Owens has voted against all attempts to repeal or delay the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.[19]

Social issues


Voted "No" Owens voted against HR 1797 - Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. The resolution passed the House on June 18, 2013, with a vote of 228 - 196. The purpose of the bill is to ban abortions that would take place 20 or more weeks after fertilization.[20]

Previous congressional sessions

Fiscal Cliff

Voted "Yes" Owens voted for the fiscal cliff compromise bill, which made permanent most of the Bush tax cuts originally passed in 2001 and 2003 while also raising tax rates on the highest income levels. He was one of 172 Democrats who voted in favor of the bill. The bill was passed in the House by a 257 - 167 vote on January 1, 2013.[21]


Campaign themes


During the campaign for a special election for Congress, Owens said the following:

  • The public option had no place in the health care reform bill.[22]
  • He was opposed to any health care bill that cut Medicare benefits
  • He was opposed to taxing health care benefits
  • He was opposed to increasing taxes on the middle class.[23]

After making these promises on his campaign website, Owens voted for HR 3962 as one of his first official acts in Congress. HR 3962 has a public option, cuts Medicare benefits, taxes health care benefits and increases taxes on the middle class.

Owens voted in favor of the health care reform bill.[24] A total of 57% of likely voters at least somewhat favor repeal of the health care reform bill, including 46% who strongly favor repeal. Only 35% of likely voters oppose repeal. A total of 51% of likely voters believe the health care reform bill will be bad for the country, while 36% believe it will be beneficial.[25]



See also: New York's 21st Congressional District elections, 2014

On January 14, 2014, Owen's announced that he would not seek re-election in 2014. New York's 21st Congressional District is considered a possible swing-district in the 2014 midterm elections. Owens won election in 2012 by less than 5,000 votes and questions arose during his current term about a 2011 trip to Taiwan which may have violated House Ethics rules.[1]


See also: New York's 21st Congressional District elections, 2012

Owens won re-election in 2012, but due to New York's redistricting, he ran in the newly redrawn 21st District.[26] He was unopposed in the Democratic primary and defeated Matt Doheny (R) and Donald Hassig (G) in the general election on November 6, 2012.[27][28]

U.S. House, New York District 21 General Election, 2012
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngBill Owens Incumbent 47.1% 126,631
     Republican Matthew Doheny 45.3% 121,646
     Green Donald Hassig 1.6% 4,174
     N/A Blank/Void/Scattering 6.1% 16,290
Total Votes 268,741
Source: New York State Board of Elections "U.S. House of Representatives Results"

Full history

Campaign donors

Comprehensive donor information for Owens is available dating back to 2010. Based on available campaign finance records, Owens raised a total of $4,797,568 during that time period. This information was last updated on March 23, 2013.[30]

Bill Owens's Campaign Contribution History
Year Office Result Contributions
2012 U.S. House of Representatives (New York, District 21) Won $1,968,478
2010 U.S. House of Representatives (New York, District 23) Won $2,829,090
Grand Total Raised $4,797,568

Individual breakdown


Candidates for Congress were required to file up to seven main reports with the Federal Election Commission during the 2014 elections season. Below are Owens’ reports before he announced that he would not seek re-election in 2014.[31]


Breakdown of the source of Owens' campaign funds before the 2012 election.

Owens won election to the U.S. House in 2012. During that election cycle, Owens' campaign committee raised a total of $1,968,478 and spent $1,939,276.[36]

Cost per vote

Owens spent $15.32 per vote received in 2012.


Breakdown of the source of Owens' campaign funds before the 2010 election.
Owens was re-elected to the U.S. House in 2010 for a second term. His campaign committee raised a total of $2,829,090 and spent $2,812,845.[37]

Personal Gain Index

See also: Personal Gain Index
Congressional Personal Gain Index graphic.png

The aim of the Personal Gain Index (PGI) is to shine a light on how members of the U.S. Congress may benefit from their tenure as public servants. Researchers at the Government Accountability Institute will look at four different metrics pointing to aspects of self-enrichment.
The PGI will consist of the following metrics:

  • Net worth
    • How much did a member's net worth increase or decrease over a specified period?
  • The K-Street metric (coming soon)
    • What percentage of a member's staff were previously lobbyists?
  • Donation concentration (coming soon)
    • What industries are contributing the most to each member?
  • Stock trading (coming soon)
    • What stocks are each member holding in their portfolio?

PGI: Net worth

See also: Net worth of United States Senators and Representatives
Net Worth Metric graphic.png

Based on congressional financial disclosure forms and calculations made available by, Owens' net worth as of 2012 was estimated between $1,182,009 and $2,480,000. That averages to $1,831,004.50, which is lower than the average net worth of Democratic representatives in 2012 of $5,700,168.36. Owens ranked as the 156th most wealthy representative in 2012.[38] Between 2009 and 2012, Owens' net worth decreased by 53.3 percent. Between 2004 and 2012, the average increase in the net worth of a congressman was 72.6 percent.

Bill Owens Yearly Net Worth
YearAverage Net Worth
Growth from 2009 to 2012:-53%
Average annual growth:-18%[39]
Comparatively, the American citizen experienced a median yearly decline in net worth of -0.94%.[40]
The data used to calculate changes in net worth may include changes resulting from assets gained through marriage, inheritance, changes in family estates and/or trusts, changes in family business ownership and many other variables unrelated to a member's behavior in Congress.


Ideology and leadership

See also: GovTrack's Political Spectrum & Legislative Leadership ranking

Based on an analysis of bill sponsorship by GovTrack, Owens is a "centrist Democratic follower," as of June 21, 2013.[41]

Like-minded colleagues

The website OpenCongress tracks the voting records of each member to determine with whom he or she votes most and least often. The results include a member from each party.[42]

Owens most often votes with:

Owens least often votes with:

Lifetime voting record

See also: Lifetime voting records of United States Senators and Representatives

According to the website GovTrack, Owens missed 51 of 2,497 roll call votes from Nov 2009 to Apr 2013, which is 2.0% of votes during that period. This is better than the median of 2.2% among the lifetime records of representatives currently serving.[43]

Congressional staff salaries

See also: Staff salaries of United States Senators and Representatives

The website Legistorm compiles staff salary information for members of Congress. Owens paid his congressional staff a total of $799,365 in 2011. Overall, New York ranked 28th in average salary for representative staff. The average U.S. House of Representatives congressional staff was paid $954,912.20 in fiscal year 2011.[44]

Staff bonuses

According to an analysis by CNN, Owens was one of nearly 25 percent of House members who gave their staff bonuses in 2012. Owens's staff was given an apparent $31,000.00 in bonus money.[45]

National Journal vote ratings

See also: National Journal vote ratings


Each year National Journal publishes an analysis of how liberally or conservatively each member of Congress voted in the previous year. Owens tied with one other member of the U.S. House of Representatives, ranking 169th in the liberal rankings among members of the U.S. House.[46]


Each year National Journal publishes an analysis of how liberally or conservatively each member of Congress voted in the previous year. Owens tied with one other member of the U.S. House of Representatives, ranking 170th in the liberal rankings among members of the U.S. House.[47]

Voting with party

November 2011

Bill Owens voted with the Democratic Party 73.7% of the time, which ranked 199th among the 201 House Democratic members as of June, 2013.


Owens and his wife Jane reside in Plattsburgh, New York. They have three grown children, and four grandchildren.[48]

Recent news

This section displays the most recent stories in a Google news search for the term Bill + Owens + New York + House

All stories may not be relevant to this page due to the nature of the search engine.

Bill Owens News Feed

  • Loading...

See also

External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 Politico, "New York Democrat Bill Owens to retire from House,"January 14, 2014
  2. Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, "DCCC Chairman Steve Israel Announces 2013-2014 Frontline Members," accessed March 5, 2013
  3. Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, "OWENS, William, (1949 - )"
  4. Congressman Bill Owens, Representing New York's 23rd District, "Biography"
  5., "House Committee Rosters for the 113th Congress," accessed March 3, 2013
  6. Congressman Bill Owens, Representing New York's 23rd District, "Committees and Caucuses"
  7. Congressional Record, "Resume of Congressional Activity, First Session of the 112th Congress," accessed September 5, 2013
  8. Congressional Record, "Resume of Congressional Activity, Second Session of the 113th Congress," accessed March 4, 2014
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 Project Vote Smart, "Representative Owens' Voting Records on National Security," accessed October 10, 2013
  10. The Library of Congress, "H.R.624 CISPA (2013) (Referred in Senate - RFS)," accessed August 27, 2013
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 Open Secrets, "Agribusiness and the Farm Bill: Wayward Dems Benefit from Contributions" accessed July 19, 2013
  12. Clerk of the U.S. House, "Final vote results for Roll Call 504," accessed October 31, 2013
  13. Buzzfeed, "Government Shutdown: How We Got Here," accessed October 1, 2013
  14. Clerk of the U.S. House, "Final vote results for Roll Call 504," accessed October 31, 2013
  15. The Washington Post, "Reid, McConnell propose bipartisan Senate bill to end shutdown, extend borrowing," accessed October 16, 2013
  16. U.S. House, "Final vote results for Roll Call 550," accessed October 31, 2013
  17. The Library of Congress, "H.AMDT.136," accessed August 28, 2013
  18. Project Vote Smart, "Representative Owens' Voting Records on Immigration," accessed October 10, 2013
  19. Project Vote Smart, "Representative Owens' Voting Records on Issue: Health and Healthcare," accessed October 10, 2013
  20. Project Vote Smart, "Owens on abortion," accessed October 10, 2013
  21. U.S. House, "Roll Call Vote on the Fiscal Cliff," accessed January 4, 2013
  22. Politico, "Dem House candidate against public option," August 11, 2009
  23. Gouverner Times, "Owens Breaks 4 Campaign Promises in first hour in Congress," November 6, 2009
  24. US House Clerk, "Roll Call 165," March 21, 2010
  25. Rasmussen, "61% Favor Repeal of Healthcare Law," September 20, 2010
  26. Post Star, "GOP sues to remove Owens from third-party ballot line," May 1, 2012
  27. AP/CSPAN "New York-Summary Vote Report," June 26, 2012
  28. Politico, "2012 Election Map, New York"
  29. U.S. Congress House Clerk, "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 2, 2010," accessed March 28, 2013
  30. Open Secrets, "Career Fundraising for Bill Owens" March 2013
  31. Federal Election Commission, "Bill Owens Summary Report," accessed August 1, 2013
  32. Federal Election Commission, "Bill Owens April Quarterly," accessed August 1st, 2013
  33. Federal Election Commission, "Bill Owens July Quarterly," accessed July 30, 2013
  34. Federal Election Commission, "Bill Owens October Quarterly," accessed October 28, 2013
  35. Federal Election Commission, "Bill Owens Year-End Quarterly," accessed February 13, 2014
  36. Open Secrets, "Bill Owens 2012 Election Cycle," accessed February 26, 2013
  37. Open Secrets, "Bill Owens 2010 Election Data," accessed December 23, 2011
  38.,"Bill Owens (D-NY), 2012," accessed February 18, 2014
  39. This figure represents the total percentage growth divided by the number of years for which there are net worth figures for each member.
  40. This figure was calculated using median asset data from the Census Bureau. Please see the Congressional Net Worth data for Ballotpedia spreadsheet for more information on this calculation.
  41. GovTrack, "William Owens" accessed June 21, 2013
  42. OpenCongress, "Bill Owens," accessed August 6, 2013
  43. GovTrack, "Bill Owens" accessed April 2013
  44. LegiStorm, "Bill Owens," accessed October 1, 2012
  45. CNN Politics, "Congressional bonuses in a time of cuts," accessed March 8, 2013
  46. National Journal, "2012 Congressional Vote Ratings," accessed March 6, 2013
  47. National Journal, "Searchable Vote Ratings Tables: House," accessed February 23, 2012
  48. Congressman Bill Owens, Representing New York's 23rd District, "Biography"
Political offices
Preceded by
Paul Tonko
U.S. House of Representatives - New York, District 21
Succeeded by
Preceded by
John McHugh
U.S. House of Representatives - New York, District 23
Succeeded by
Tom Reed