Bill Owens

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Bill Owens
Bill owens.jpg
U.S. House, New York, District 21
Former representative
In office
November 3, 2009-January 3, 2015
PredecessorPaul Tonko (D)
Elections and appointments
Last electionNovember 6, 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(2012) $1,831,004.50
ReligionRoman Catholic
William L. "Bill" Owens (b. January 20, 1949, in Brooklyn, NY) was a Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives representing New York's 21st Congressional District. Prior to redistricting in 2012, Owens had previously served in New York's 23rd Congressional District. Owens was first elected to the House in 2009 and served two consecutive terms.

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

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


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.[2]


Below is an abbreviated outline of Owens' professional and political career:[3][2]

Committee assignments

U.S. House


Owens served on the following committees:[4]


Owens served on the following committees:[5]

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.[6] For more information pertaining to Owens's voting record in the 113th Congress, please see the below sections.[7]

National security


Yea3.png 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.[8]

DHS Appropriations

Yea3.png Owens voted in support of HR 2217 - the DHS Appropriations Act of 2014. The bill passed the House on June 6, 2013, with a vote of 245 - 182 and was largely along party lines.[8]

Keystone Pipeline Amendment

Nay3.png 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.[8]

CISPA (2013)

Yea3.png 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 permitted federal intelligence agencies to share cybersecurity intelligence and information with private entities and utilities.[9] The bill was largely supported by Republicans, but divided the Democratic Party.[8]


2013 Farm Bill

See also: United States Farm Bill 2013

Nay3.png 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.[10] 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.[10] According to analysis by, many of these Democratic members have received significant political contributions from agricultural organizations that benefit from crop insurance subsidies.[10]

Government shutdown

See also: United States budget debate, 2013

Nay3.png 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.[11] 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.[12] Owens voted against the stopgap spending bill that would have delayed the individual mandate.[13]

Yea3.png The shutdown 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.[14] 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.[15]


Source: This graphic was generated by Find The Best.

Morton Memos Prohibition

Nay3.png 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.[16] The vote largely followed party lines.[17]


Repealing Obamacare

Nay3.png Owens has voted against all attempts to repeal or delay the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.[18]

Social issues


Nay3.png 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 was to ban abortions that would take place 20 or more weeks after fertilization.[19]

Previous congressional sessions

Fiscal Cliff

Yea3.png 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.[20]


On The Issues Vote Match

Bill Owens' Vote Match results from On The Issues.
See also: On The Issues Vote Match

On The Issues conducts a VoteMatch analysis of elected officials based on 20 issue areas. Rather than relying on incumbents to complete the quiz themselves, the VoteMatch analysis is conducted using voting records, statements to the media, debate transcripts or citations from books authored by or about the candidate. Based on the results of the quiz, Owens is a Liberal Populist. Owens received a score of 55 percent on social issues and 23 percent on economic issues.[21]

On The Issues organization logo.

The table below contains the results of analysis compiled by staff at On The Issues.

On The Issues Vote Quiz[22]
Economic Issues Social Issues
Issue Stance Issue Stance
Legally require hiring women & minorities Strongly Favors Abortion is a woman's unrestricted right Strongly Favors
Expand ObamaCare Strongly Favors Comfortable with same-sex marriage Favors
Vouchers for school choice Strongly Opposes Keep God in the public sphere Neutral
Absolute right to gun ownership Strongly Favors Human needs over animal rights Strongly Opposes
Higher taxes on the wealthy Favors Stricter punishment reduces crime Neutral
Support & expand free trade Opposes Pathway to citizenship for illegal aliens Opposes
Stricter limits on political campaign funds Strongly Favors Maintain US sovereignty from UN Strongly Favors
Prioritize green energy Strongly Favors Expand the military Strongly Favors
Stimulus better than market-led recovery Favors Stay out of Iran Strongly Opposes
Privatize Social Security Strongly Opposes Never legalize marijuana Neutral
Note: Information last updated: 2014.[21] If you notice the rating has changed, email us.

Campaign themes


During his 2009 special election campaign for Congress, Owens stated his opinions regarding potential healthcare bills. According to the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), Owens said that "the public option had no place in the health care reform bill" and that "he was firmly opposed to cutting Medicare benefits, taxing health care benefits, and increased taxes on the middle class."[23][24]

After making these promises on his campaign website, Owens voted for HR 3962 as one of his first official acts in Congress. He received criticism from groups such as the NRCC, who claimed that HR 3962 had a public option, cut Medicare benefits, taxed health care benefits and increased taxes on the middle class.[25]

Owens voted in favor of the health care reform bill.[26] A total of 57 percent of likely voters at least somewhat favored repeal of the health care reform bill, including 46 percent who strongly favored repeal. Only 35 percent of likely voters opposed repeal. A total of 51 percent of likely voters believed the health care reform bill would be bad for the country, while 36 percent believed it would be beneficial.[27]



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 was considered a swing-district in the 2014 midterm elections. Owens won election in 2012 by less than 5,000 votes and questions arose about a 2011 trip to Taiwan which may have violated House Ethics rules.[1]

Prior to his announcement, Owens was a member of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's Frontline Program. The program was designed to help protect vulnerable Democratic incumbents during the 2014 election cycle.[28]


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.[29] He was unopposed in the Democratic primary and defeated Matt Doheny (R) and Donald Hassig (G) in the general election on November 6, 2012.[30][31]

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

Fundraising events

The below chart from Find The Best tracks the fundraising events Owens attends.

Source: This graphic was generated by Find The Best.

Comprehensive donor history

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.[33]

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

Source: This graphic was generated by Find The Best.


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.[34]


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.[39]

Cost per vote

Owens spent $15.32 per vote received in 2012.


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.[40]

Personal Gain Index

Congressional Personal Gain Index graphic.png
See also: Personal Gain Index (U.S. Congress)

The Personal Gain Index (U.S. Congress) is a two-part measurement that illustrates the extent to which members of the U.S. Congress have prospered during their tenure as public servants.
It consists of two different metrics:

PGI: Change in net worth

See also: Changes in Net Worth of U.S. Senators and Representatives (Personal Gain Index) and 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.[41] Between 2009 and 2012, Owens' calculated net worth[42] decreased by an average of 18 percent per year. Between 2004 and 2012, the average annual percentage increase for a member of Congress was 15.4 percent.[43]

Bill Owens Yearly Net Worth
YearAverage Net Worth
Growth from 2009 to 2012:-53%
Average annual growth:-18%[44]
Comparatively, the American citizen experienced a median yearly decline in net worth of -0.94%.[45]
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.

PGI: Donation Concentration Metric

See also: The Donation Concentration Metric (U.S. Congress Personal Gain Index)

Filings required by the Federal Election Commission report on the industries that give to each candidate. Using campaign filings and information calculated by, Ballotpedia calculated the percentage of donations by industry received by each incumbent over the course of his or her career (or 1989 and later, if elected prior to 1988). Owens received the most donations from individuals and PACs employed by the Leadership PACs industry.

From 2009-2014, 26.53 percent of Owens' career contributions came from the top five industries as listed below.[46]

Donation Concentration Metric graphic.png
Bill Owens Campaign Contributions
Total Raised $5,406,808
Total Spent $4,928,877
Top five industries that contributed to campaign committee
Leadership PACs$444,900
Lawyers/Law Firms$350,208
Candidate Committees$238,250
Public Sector Unions$207,000
Real Estate$194,329
% total in top industry8.23%
% total in top two industries14.71%
% total in top five industries26.53%


Ideology and leadership

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

Based on an analysis of bill sponsorship by GovTrack, Owens was a "centrist Democrat" as of August 2014.[47] Owens was rated as a "centrist Democratic follower" in June 2013.

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.[48]

Owens most often voted with:

Owens least often voted with:

Source: This graphic was generated by Find The Best.

Lifetime voting record

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

According to the website GovTrack, Owens missed 67 of 3,515 roll call votes from November 2009 to August 2014. This amounts to 1.9 percent, which is better than the median of 2.5 percent among current congressional representatives as of August 2014.[47]

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.[49]

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.[50]

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. Click the link above for the full ratings of all members of Congress.


Owens ranked 195th in the liberal rankings in 2013.[51]


Owens ranked 169th in the liberal rankings in 2012.[52]


Owens ranked 170th in the liberal rankings in 2011.[53]

Voting with party

The website OpenCongress tracks how often members of Congress vote with the majority of the chamber caucus.


Owens voted with the Democratic Party 73.7 percent of the time, which ranked 194th among the 204 House Democratic members as of August 2014.[54]


Owens voted with the Democratic Party 73.7 percent of the time, which ranked 199th among the 201 House Democratic members as of June 2013.[55]


Owens and his wife Jane reside in Plattsburgh, New York. They have three grown children and four grandchildren.[3]

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

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See also

External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 Politico, "New York Democrat Bill Owens to retire from House," January 14, 2014
  2. 2.0 2.1 Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, "OWENS, William, (1949 - )," accessed December 23, 2011
  3. 3.0 3.1 Congressman Bill Owens, Representing New York's 23rd District, "Biography," accessed December 23, 2011
  4., "House Committee Rosters for the 113th Congress," accessed March 3, 2013
  5. Congressman Bill Owens, Representing New York's 23rd District, "Committees and Caucuses," accessed December 23, 2011
  6. Congressional Record, "Resume of Congressional Activity, First Session of the 112th Congress," accessed September 5, 2013
  7. Congressional Record, "Resume of Congressional Activity, Second Session of the 113th Congress," accessed March 4, 2014
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 Project Vote Smart, "Representative Owens' Voting Records on National Security," accessed October 10, 2013
  9. The Library of Congress, "Bill Summary & Status - 113th Congress (2013 - 2014) - H.R.624," accessed August 27, 2013
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Open Secrets, "Agribusiness and the Farm Bill: Wayward Dems Benefit from Contributions," accessed July 19, 2013
  11. Clerk of the U.S. House, "Final vote results for Roll Call 504," accessed October 31, 2013
  12. Buzzfeed, "Government Shutdown: How We Got Here," accessed October 1, 2013
  13. Clerk of the U.S. House, "Final vote results for Roll Call 504," accessed October 31, 2013
  14. The Washington Post, "Reid, McConnell propose bipartisan Senate bill to end shutdown, extend borrowing," accessed October 16, 2013
  15. U.S. House, "Final vote results for Roll Call 550," accessed October 31, 2013
  16. The Library of Congress, "H.AMDT.136," accessed August 28, 2013
  17. Project Vote Smart, "Representative Owens' Voting Records on Immigration," accessed October 10, 2013
  18. Project Vote Smart, "Representative Owens' Voting Records on Issue: Health and Healthcare," accessed October 10, 2013
  19. Project Vote Smart, "Owens on abortion," accessed October 10, 2013
  20. U.S. House, "Roll Call Vote on the Fiscal Cliff," accessed January 4, 2013
  21. 21.0 21.1 On The Issues, "Bill Owens Vote Match," accessed June 23, 2014
  22. The questions in the quiz are broken down into two sections -- social and economic. In social questions, liberals and libertarians agree in choosing the less-government answers, while conservatives and populists agree in choosing the more restrictive answers. For the economic questions, conservatives and libertarians agree in choosing the less-government answers, while liberals and populists agree in choosing the more restrictive answers.
  23. National Republican Congressional Committee, "Owens Breaks 4 Campaign Promises in First Hour in Congress," accessed November 6, 2009
  24. Politico, "Dem House candidate against public option," accessed August 11, 2009
  25. Gouverner Times, "Owens Breaks 4 Campaign Promises in first hour in Congress," accessed November 6, 2009
  26. US House Clerk, "Roll Call 165," March 21, 2010
  27. Rasmussen, "61% Favor Repeal of Healthcare Law," accessed September 20, 2010
  28. Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, "DCCC Chairman Steve Israel Announces 2013-2014 Frontline Members," accessed March 5, 2013
  29. Post Star, "GOP sues to remove Owens from third-party ballot line," May 1, 2012
  30. AP/CSPAN, "New York-Summary Vote Report," June 26, 2012
  31. Politico, "2012 Election Map, New York," accessed November 7, 2012
  32. U.S. Congress House Clerk, "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 2, 2010," accessed March 28, 2013
  33. Open Secrets, "Career Fundraising for Bill Owens," March 2013
  34. Federal Election Commission, "Bill Owens Summary Report," accessed August 1, 2013
  35. Federal Election Commission, "Bill Owens April Quarterly," accessed August 1st, 2013
  36. Federal Election Commission, "Bill Owens July Quarterly," accessed July 30, 2013
  37. Federal Election Commission, "Bill Owens October Quarterly," accessed October 28, 2013
  38. Federal Election Commission, "Bill Owens Year-End Quarterly," accessed February 13, 2014
  39. Open Secrets, "Bill Owens 2012 Election Cycle," accessed February 26, 2013
  40. Open Secrets, "Bill Owens 2010 Election Data," accessed December 23, 2011
  41., "Bill Owens (D-NY), 2012," accessed February 18, 2014
  42. This figure represents the average annual percentage growth from either 2004 (if the member entered office in 2004 or earlier) or their first year in office (as noted in the chart below) to 2012, divided by the number of years calculated.
  43. This number was found by dividing each member's total net worth growth percentage by the number of years included in the calculation.
  44. This figure represents the total percentage growth divided by the number of years for which there are net worth figures for each member.
  45. 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.
  46., "Rep. Bill Owens," accessed September 26, 2014
  47. 47.0 47.1 GovTrack, "William Owens," accessed August 11, 2014
  48. OpenCongress, "Bill Owens," accessed August 11, 2014
  49. LegiStorm, "Bill Owens," accessed October 1, 2012
  50. CNN Politics, "Congressional bonuses in a time of cuts," accessed March 8, 2013
  51. National Journal, "2013 Congressional Vote Ratings," accessed August 11, 2014
  52. National Journal, "2012 Congressional Vote Ratings," accessed March 6, 2013
  53. National Journal, "Searchable Vote Ratings Tables: House," accessed February 23, 2012
  54. OpenCongress, "Voting With Party," accessed July 2014
  55. OpenCongress, "Voting With Party," accessed July 2014
Political offices
Preceded by
Paul Tonko
U.S. House of Representatives - New York, District 21
Succeeded by
Elise Stefanik
Preceded by
John McHugh
U.S. House of Representatives - New York, District 23
Succeeded by
Tom Reed