Herald Roundtable

Suozzi ready to return to U.S. House


The race to replace expelled congressman George Santos has been intense. Yet, Tom Suozzi is convinced he’s the voters’ best choice in the Feb. 13 special election, due to his experience and past ability to work across the political aisle.
A former Glen Cove mayor and Nassau County executive before serving three terms in the U.S. House, Suozzi says he believes bipartisanship is the key to effective government — something Washington is currently lacking.
He was vice president of the Problem Solvers Caucus — a bipartisan group of congressional members focused on finding compromises between the two parties — and worked across the aisle on immigration reform, and the repeal of the state and local tax deduction with former Republican congressman Peter King.
“I have a lot of other examples with other members of Congress that I worked with bipartisan. And that’s my point,” Suozzi told reporters during a recent Herald Roundtable session. “You may not endorse me. You may not support me, may not even like me, for all I know. But I’ll work with anybody — from a progressive, to a moderate, to conservative. I’ll work with anybody to try and find common ground to actually solve the problem and get things done, because that’s what the people are hungry for.”
If elected, Suozzi plans to continue improving infrastructure in his congressional district, which he is confident he could complete based on his past record of helping to formulate President Biden’s infrastructure bill through the Problem Solvers Caucus, 20 House members, some senators, and even a few governors.

“We laid out the framework for the infrastructure deal, the biggest infrastructure deal in 40 years in America,” Suozzi said.
“The whole time I’ve been in politics, we’ve always heard about, ‘Oh, our roads and our bridges and our airports and our ports and our sewers and our water are all decayed, and they needed massive investment.’ But they’ve never got it done.
“I’ll get more money for the Long Island Sound. I’ll get money for drinking water on Long Island, a major problem with all the pump stations that we need to put the filters in to get the drinking water out.”
Suozzi says he is committed to improving service on the Oyster Bay line of the Long Island Rail Road, too. He’ll fight for an express train that will not stop until it arrives in Mineola, where commuters would change trains for Manhattan. Realizing the potential popularity of an express train — which would considerably cut the hour-long commute time — Suozzi said he would get federal funding to expand the parking lot.
Suozzi says constituents know his positions, thanks to the six years he represented them in Washington. Still, he feels compelled to set the record straight on an accusation waged at him that he is a member of “the Squad” — an informal group of “progressive” Democrats led by U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Suozzi says he is not — nor has he ever been — a member of that group.
The misconception, Suozzi says, comes from a comment he made on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” in 2019, responding to then-President Donald Trump reportedly telling Squad members they should go back to where they came from.
The Trump comment “really set me off,” Suozzi said. His father immigrated to America from Italy as a boy. And although he was a decorated World War II veteran and a graduate of Harvard Law School, because he was an immigrant, he could not get a job as an attorney.
“Nobody liked the Italians because the Italians had teamed up with the Germans during World War II. And, because of the Mafia,” Suozzi said. “People would say to him, ‘Go back to where you came from.’”
Suozzi said he took Trump’s comment personally, leading him to say that he didn’t agree with the Squad on most issues, but that he wanted to be an “honorary member” based solely on what Trump said.
As far as the environment is concerned, Suozzi said he would continue his efforts to bring money to the district to help with future flooding and resiliency problems. He also will continue to promote green energy.
It is important to be vigilant on antisemitism, Suozzi said, adding he supports Israel completely and would put no conditions on aid. He believes, however, he may have lost support from Orthodox Jews because of the political party he belongs to.
“There’s this feeling out there that all the Republicans are pro-Israel,” Suozzi said. “And while 95 percent of the members of Congress are pro-Israel, that 5 percent who are not — and it’s actually less than 5 percent who are not — are so loud, that they have damaged the perception of the Democratic Party regarding Israel.”
He believes it is important to keep Congress bipartisan.
“You need to have strong, outspoken pro-Israel Democrats now more than ever,” Suozzi said. “And I am that person as a supporter of Israel.”
Suozzi says he remains committed to reducing the cost of prescription drugs.
“We pay much too much for prescription drugs in America compared to other countries that get the exact same drugs,” he said. “We’re never getting rid of private health insurance, but we should continue to figure out ways to reduce insurance costs. And we have to figure out ways to just reduce medical costs.”
Law enforcement is something Suozzi says he will always support, as well as issues addressing gun violence.
He also would like to continue his work to get the state and local tax deduction back.
“That’s my number one priority, and it always has been my number one priority,” Suozzi said. “I passed it three times through the House, but couldn’t get it through the Senate. And, therefore, it wasn’t signed by the president.”
SALT expires in 2025, and Suozzi believes congress will try to cap it again.
“It’s just going to be my number one issue,” he said, “and I’m going to have an even bigger coalition of people to fight against it.”
Suozzi says he is also committed to securing the borders, but has additional plans too. He previously wrote an opinion piece with King called the “grand compromise.” It had three elements: border security, treat people like human beings, and funding all of it.
Suozzi and King wanted to give a pathway to citizenship to “Dreamers,” people who came to the United States as babies, and are now adults working jobs or even serving in the military. They also wanted to find ways to help those in the country through temporary protected status — those who came to America because of disasters like earthquakes and civil wars — to find a way to citizenship as well.
But one additional idea Suozzi wants is to build an “Ellis Island” at the border.
“When I was in congress, we had like a dozen facilities along the southern border, and they were all built in the 1950s,” he said. “The border crossings, they have the dilapidated buildings. They can process 40 or 50 people a day. That’s it.”
Instead, Suozzi wants a “giant facility” where “you get your health checked. You get your background checked. And an immigration judge rules whether or not you’re eligible for asylum.”
People may not like his idea, Suozzi said, but it is an idea — something he added is lacking in congress right now. And he says he has plenty more.