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Thirteen members of New York State's congressional delegation Wednesday protested plans by the Army Corps of Engineers to cut back on the size and operations of its Buffalo district office.

The Army says it wants to shrink both the Buffalo and Detroit offices because of budget cuts and reduced operations. The delegation said the cutbacks would be "unacceptable."

The quarrel could be a test of strength between the corps and two Democrats whose subcommittees must review many corps requests: Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, D-N.Y., chairman of the Public Works Subcommittee on Transportation, and Rep. Henry J. Nowak, D-Buffalo, chairman of the Public Works Subcommittee on Water Resources.

A Nowak aide said about 50 of Buffalo district's 375 corps jobs could be threatened.

A letter circulated by Moynihan, Nowak and Sen. Alfonse M. D'Amato, R-N.Y., said the delegation "would object to any plan that would decrease the stature or size of the Buffalo district office."

". . . We are apprehensive that changes in its management structure might lead to a decrease in . . . (the Buffalo district's) effectiveness and service to Western New York," the letter said.

Others signing the letter included Reps. Bill Paxon, R-Williamsville; Amory Houghton Jr., R-Corning; John J. LaFalce, D-Town of Tonawanda; Louise M. Slaughter, D-Fairport; Matt McHugh, D-Ithaca; Frank Horton, D-Rochester; Sherwood L. Boehlert, R-Utica; James T. Walsh, R-Syracuse; Michael R. McNulty, D-Albany, and Gerald Solomon, R-Glens Falls.

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