Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson’s flat statement that the hard-fought bipartisan border deal, entangled with aid desperately needed by Ukraine and Israel and humanitarian aid for Gazans, is “dead on arrival” because “Trump told me to kill it” is all the more reason why the special election for NY-03’s congressional seat is of national and even international importance.
Electing Democrat Tom Suozzi – with a proven record at working towards bipartisan solutions and cutting out the political gamesmanship – is crucial.
Suozzi’s election will further eat into the Republican Majority, with now just two votes that have been wielded to literally strangle government and use lives as hostages to force grossly unpopular policy. But it would also send a message to neighboring Republican congressmen who so far have talked a good game about being “reasonable” and “responsible” to their constituents while actually aiding and abetting the MAGA extremists that have captured their party.
The Long Island Republicans have shown that they have no actual moral center or actual policy positions but will do whatever keeps their party in power, and right now that means kowtowing to Trump and his MAGA extremists.
Suozzi’s Republican opponent, Nassau County Legislator Mazi Pilip, has demonstrated that she is a stooge for the party. Despite her attack ads showcasing the migrant crisis and saying over and over “it’s a problem,” she has just adopted Johnson’s line in opposing the bipartisan immigration deal (without even seeing it).
But that is consistent during her extremely brief time as an elected official that her loyalty is not to constituents but to the Republican machine that “brung” her to the party.
She has no actual positions (or even understanding) of national issues, and on the extremely rare occasions she has been put in a position to answer questions, has actually flip-flopped on key issues like abortion, assault weapons ban, and whether or not “no man is above the law” and should be held to account.
She now says she would vote for Trump even if he is convicted but has refused to say whether she voted for Trump in 2016 or 2020, the rare times she has voted since becoming a citizen and registering to vote in 2012.
“This is a pretty good indication of what this race is about – I want bipartisan solutions and my opponent is taking Republican talking points from extremists,” Suozzi said during an online press conference.
“It’s incomprehensible to me that a candidate can claim that her No. 1 priority is securing the border yet takes a dead-on-arrival approach on the only compromise border bill that has had a chance of passing our Congress over the past 30 years,” said Suozzi, who offered a bipartisan “grand compromise” on immigration reform back in 2019 with then Republican Congressman Peter King of Nassau.
“Everyone agrees this is the toughest, fairest set of reforms in decades,” Suozzi said.
Actually, the bipartisan immigration deal gives Republicans what they have been clamoring for: it changes asylum laws, builds more wall, adds more detention beds, hastens the 10- year backlog to a matter of weeks before migrants claiming asylum can be deported by hiring immigration judges, border agents, and providing work permits for those allowed to come in. (80 percent who seek asylum are denied and deported, but presently that process can take 10 years.)
The bill would also provide funding for cities and states that are sheltering migrants and for the first time gives the President temporary emergency authority to shut down the border when the system is overwhelmed.
And while the bill does not address providing a path to citizenship or even legal status for the DACA recipients or the millions of undocumented migrants currently living in the country, as Democrats have wanted, it does restore the path to citizenship for people who join the armed services that Trump had ended.
“By opposing this bill, [Mazi Pilip] is opposing funding to increase ICE detention capacity to 50,000, funding to hire hundreds ICE deportation officers, border patrol, US customs officials, asylum officers, increasing deportation flights, as well as a compromise that would provide $14 billion in aid to Israel and crucial aid to Ukraine to fend off Putin’s brutal invasion,” Suozzi said.
“People are tired of these political games that Mazi Pilip and her handlers are conducting.”
It makes Pilip’s attacks on Suozzi as the “liberal” single-handedly responsible for the border crisis all the more absurd and calculated.
Constituents, Suozzi said, “want common sense leadership and people coming together to get things done. I’ve built my entire career on getting things done, working across party lines in so many ways, including immigration.”
It’s part of the bigger issue of “good government” – something that Republicans have abandoned since Newt Gingrich’s 1996 “Contract on America,” when he instituted a policy of ”my way or the highway” – never compromising with Democrats, effectively disenfranchising more than half the country – and regularly using shutdowns, threats to crash the economy and impeachment as political weapons.
Mike Johnson is going further, abandoning national interest in favor of Trump’s political interest: he only flip-flopped on demanding a congressional solution to immigration (using Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan as hostages) after Trump told him he needed to prolong the border crisis because it so inflames voters and to deny Biden “a victory.” (Trump also wished for a recession before the 2024 election – something that a government shutdown and refusal to pass a budget could achieve.)
Even in this high-speed dash to the special election feb. 13, Mazi Pilip has flip-flopped on most issues that are most important to NY-03 constituents. She has waffled on women’s reproductive rights and her backing by Conservatives guarantees her vote for a national abortion ban. She reversed herself on “No Man is Above the Law” to now say she would vote for Trump even if he is convicted.
Early voting is underway until Feb. 11.
(See what is in the Bipartisan National Security Agreement)