The Senate has unveiled a bipartisan national security deal that would bolster security at the southern border as well as deliver aid to Israel and Ukraine, but New York’s 3rd Congressional District candidate Mazi Pilip has joined fellow Republicans in opposing the bill.
Her Democratic opponent, Tom Suozzi, called Pilip’s stance an appeasement to GOP party extremists as the U.S. Senate prepared to take a vote that could kill the measure.
Former Congressman Suozzi and Nassau County District 10 Legislator Pilip are facing off in a Feb. 13 special election to finish out the term of Republican Rep. George Santos, who was expelled from Congress in December.
U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, unveiled the national security deal Sunday which includes $118.28 billion to fund border security and aid to Israel and Ukraine.
More than $20 billion was apportioned to secure the country’s southern border. The package includes work authorization and asylum determinations, initiatives to combat drug and fentanyl trafficking and grants temporary emergency border shutdown authority to the president when overwhelmed with high numbers of migrants.
The package also includes $60.06 billion for Ukraine, $14.1 billion for Israel and $10 billion for humanitarian aid in Gaza, the West Bank and other areas besieged by conflict.
In a statement Monday, Pilip called the deal a “nonstarter” that would legalize “the invasion currently happening at our southern border.”
“I do not support what amounts to the legalization of the invasion of our country,” Pilip said.
Suozzi called Pilip’s use of the word “invasion” to describe the crisis dangerous.
“She’s doing it because she’s consistently beholden to the national Republicans and like them she’s only interested in playing politics with people’s lives instead of working to solve problems,” Suozzi said.
Suozzi accused Pilip of siding with Republican extremists in opposition to the border deal, which has brought pushback from former President Donald Trump and far-right politicians like House Speaker Mike Johnson, who called the bill “dead on arrival.”
“Their mission is to play politics with people’s lives and coming out against the Senate bipartisan border deal instead of trying to find a bipartisan compromise,” Suozzi said about the Republicans rejecting the compromise deal.
Pilip criticized the bill for not mitigating the negative effects the influx of migrants has had on New York’s 3rd Congressional District but did not cite specific examples.
The agreement would provide federal funding to cities and states housing migrants, which Suozzi said is of importance in New York due to the influx that has arrived in New York City.
No migrants are currently being housed in Nassau County due to staunch opposition by GOP County Executive Bruce Blakeman and the backing of many legislators from both sides of the aisle, including Pilip.
Migrants are being housed in the Queens part of the district.
Pilip also opposed the lumping of aid to Israel and Ukraine in the deal to secure the border.
“All these pressing issues should be dealt with separately and swiftly,” Pilip said.
Suozzi applauded the bill for bolstering safety, securing the border and treating migrants fairly and humanely.
“If you’re going to solve problems, you have to be willing to negotiate in a bipartisan fashion across party lines,” Suozzi said. “You can’t let the dictates of your party interest and your political interest [stop] you from solving problems to get things done on behalf of the American people.”
The Democrat called the bipartisan effort the “toughest and fairest” reform on border security the country has seen in decades.
Pilip said she was not surprised Suozzi approved of the deal, saying it is another example of his siding with President Biden on immigration policies.
In her campaign Pilip continues to blame the current migrant issue on Biden and Suozzi, who she claimed created the crisis back when he was the congressman for the 3d CD. Pilip has labeled him “Sanctuary Tom Suozzi” throughout the race.
Pilip said she doubts the deal will be able to pass a vote in the Senate.
Suozzi said the differences between him and his opponent on the bill is illustrative of the race overall. He said his campaign has focused on achieving bipartisan solutions, as evident in the national security deal, whereas he accused Pilip of relying on Republican talking points rooted in party extremism.
“So my opponent in this race, Mazi Pilip, shows everyday that she’ll go to Congress to contribute to the problems that exist, not solve them,” Suozzi said.
He accused Republicans who oppose the bill of appeasing Trump, who has been vocal on social media about criticizing the measure as a “death wish” for the GOP because it could help Biden defeat him in the presidential election.
“This is not about a victory for Joe Biden,” Suozzi said. “This is about a victory for the American people to see their government actually work on behalf of the people.”
Early voting in the district’s special election, which is Election Day.