The Israel-Hamas war has been a cornerstone in the campaigns for New York’s 3rd Congressional District special election, with both candidates expressing their support for aid to Israel. But a new deal in the Senate may divide the two candidates.
Former Congressman Tom Suozzi and Nassau County District 10 Legislator Mazi 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.
On Thursday the Senate voted to advance a separate $95 billion package that would deliver aid to Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan after Republicans voted down a compromise deal with the Democrats on border security and immigration that the GOP had demanded.
The Senate immediately moved to salvage the aid portion of the defeated bill in the separate package.
In a press conference Wednesday, joined by Democrats Rep. Ritchie Torres, Rep. Josh Gottheimer and Rep. Brad Schneider, Suozzi expressed his support for the stand-alone bill to provide aid to Israel.
Efforts to reach Pilip’s campaign for comment were unavailing.
Pilip in a debate Thursday said that aid to Israel should not be linked with aid to other countries.
“It should not be on condition, it should not go with Ukraine aid,” Pilip said.
While the Senate voted for the aid package, the trajectory of the bill is uncertain after being passed for consideration.
Just days before the aid package was presented, the Senate proposed a bipartisan national security bill that would have provided a historic tightening of security at the country’s southern border while also delivering aid to Ukraine and Israel.
Democrat Suozzi applauded the bill and expressed full support for it, calling it the “toughest and fairest” reform on border security the country has seen in decades.
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 challenged Pilip’s use of the word “invasion” to describe the crisis as dangerous, accusing her of siding with GOP extremists in opposing the bill.
“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.
But after Republicans denounced the bill, with former President Donald Trump lobbying against its passage, the national security bill failed in a 49-50 vote Wednesday. Republicans justified the negative votes as a need for even stricter border security.
Suozzi said the failure to pass the national security bill was “dangerous” for Israel as it lacks unwavering support for the country amid war.
“This is actually dangerous for Israel, this is dangerous for the hostages,” Suozzi said. “It sends the wrong message at the wrong time that the United States cannot get its act together to try and send the funding that Israel needs in this conflict.”
He said the result of what he called GOP extremism blocking the deal is endangering Israel, keeping the U.S. border open and enabling Russian strongman Vladimir Putin.
“This is not a game,” Suozzi said. “This is really serious business. This is about life and death — these are real people’s lives, this is affecting everybody on a regular basis and this political game-playing is what is sickening the people of America. They want results.”