By Anna Gustafson
U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner’s (D-Forest Hills) tirade on the floor of the House of Representatives about the failure of a Sept. 11 health care bill landed him a jar of peanut butter from a constituent last week.
Rhick Bose, a teacher from Rego Park, brought Weiner a jar of Skippy peanut butter after television show host Jon Stewart, of “The Daily Show,” joked his former roommate became just as irate if Stewart used Weiner’s peanut butter as he did in Congress last week.
Weiner became animated on the floor last week and was angry at Republicans over their lack of support for a bill that would have provided billions of dollars for Sept. 11 responders and others who are sick because of toxins they were exposed to at Ground Zero.
During his speech on the House floor last week, Weiner became particularly angry at Rep. Pete King (R-Massapequa Park) after the Republican interrupted him.
“The gentleman will sit,” Weiner exclaimed in reference to King. “The gentleman is correct in sitting.”
Stewart imitated Weiner during a show last week.
“The gentleman from New Jersey will pay $1.50 for that Skippy,” Stewart said. “The gentleman is correct in paying $1.50.”
Weiner laughed when Bose handed him the peanut butter.
“That was such a bum rap,” Weiner said. “[Stewart] was always stealing my stuff.”
The Forest Hills congressman brought his mobile office, which he calls the “Weiner mobile,”to 63rd Drive in Rego Park Friday in what he said was an attempt to bring his office to constituents who are not able to come to him.
For about two hours, Weiner fielded a wide variety of questions, from complaints about the status of health care in Queens to worries about the country’s economic decline.
“Being accessible to my neighbors makes me a better representative,” Weiner said. “‘Congress On Your Corner’ is another way to hear what’s on the minds of my constituents. I love it.”
One resident said she was especially worried about access to health care in the borough following the shuttering of Parkway Hospital in Forest Hills, St. John’s in Elmhurst and Mary Immaculate in Jamaica.
“Closing the three hospitals in Queens was a mistake,” Weiner said. “I don’t think they needed to close those hospitals.”
Weiner added federal aid had gone to New York state that he believed the state could have used to keep the hospitals open.
Bose, along with several others, said they were concerned about the economy.
“There’s no middle class anymore,” Bose said.
Weiner said life has become increasingly difficult for those in the middle.
“Real incomes in the middle class have been flat for 10 years,” Weiner said.
There are a number of ways to tackle this problem, Weiner said, including looking at the costs of attending college.
“College costs are rising faster than the cost of inflation,” Weiner said.
Staci Ramroop of Rego Park said she was pleased to meet Weiner.
“He’s not afraid to go against the grain and say what he believes in,” Ramroop said. “The 9/11 fund, for example, I love how he stood up for that.”
The James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act failed by a vote of 255-159 last week. Twelve Republicans and 243 Democrats voted for the act that proposed giving as much as $7.4 billion to people who were exposed to Ground Zero toxins, including first responders, firefighters, rescue workers, police officers, EMTs, cleanup workers, area residents and schoolchildren.
Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4574.