Suozzi reaches across party lines to move legislation forward

U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi discusses the benefits of working across party lines.
Photo by Suzanne Monteverdi
By Jenna Bagcal

According to northeast Queens Congressman Tom Suozzi, “getting things done” is a bipartisan effort.

Suozzi said that bipartisanship has always been his belief while serving as representative of New York’s 3rd Congressional District, whose jurisdiction reaches across much of northwestern Long Island and sections of eastern Queens including Glen Oaks, Little Neck, Whitestone and Floral Park.

Suozzi first took office on Capitol Hill in January 2017 and is now seeking his second term in the upcoming midterm elections in November. Previously, the congressman served as the executive of Nassau County and mayor of Glen Cove.

“I’m a Democrat, but I know from having been around that if you wanna get things done, you gotta work with people,” he said during an interview at the QNS Bayside office on Oct. 12. “That doesn’t mean I’m gonna change my values; I’m still gonna fight for the things that I believe in and I’m not gonna caucus with the Republicans like the IDC did. But that doesn’t mean you can’t talk to people and that you can’t try to work with people.”

Since entering Congress, Suozzi has served as vice-chair of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus (PSC), which consists of 24 Democrats and 24 Republicans “working across party lines to try and find real solutions.” Suozzi said that the PSC focuses on core issues including health care, immigration, gun violence, infrastructure and government reform.

But the congressman shared that bipartisan cooperation comes with its own challenges.

“We can’t get anything put on the floor because the rules are set up in such a way that everything is in the power of the speaker,” he said. “Ninety percent of Americans are in favor of doing something about the DREAMers… people believe they should be given a shot to have a path to citizenship. Democrats and Republicans all over America agree with that — but you can’t get it put on the floor.”

Suozzi added that 19 Problem Solvers on both sides have agreed that they will not vote for a new Speaker of the House unless the rules are changed. In July of this year, the PSC introduced a proposal called “Break the Gridlock” which would, among other things, allow for Congress to elect a speaker “representative of the entire body” and allow bipartisan legislation to be fast-tracked.

In addition to federal issues, the congressman has been vocal about issues happening locally in his district, with one of the most notable being the air traffic noise his constituents experience. Most recently, Suozzi has secured several provisions in the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act, which would require that the FAA explores phasing out the loudest airplanes and conducting studies on the way that noise pollution impacts residents health-wise and economically in the long run.

Suozzi, who is the co-chair of the Quiet Skies Caucus, announced that starting on Oct. 15, the FAA would be testing a new route that would shift inbound air traffic away from his district. It would be an alternative route to the current North Shore helicopter route and cut helicopter and seaplane traffic by up to 50 percent.

“We’re gonna reduce the traffic by 50 percent over the next six months using an existing route that just hadn’t been used in a long time. If it works, they’ll keep it going and then for next summer it won’t be as crazy as it was this past summer,” Suozzi said.

The midterm election between Suozzi and his Republican opponent, Dan DeBono, will be on Tuesday, Nov. 6.

Reach reporter Jenna Bagcal by e-mail at jbagcal@qns.com or by phone at (718) 224-5863 ext. 214.

More from Around New York