Tom Suozzi Gets Things Done for New York’s Third District
Talking Point: Suozzi’s Freshman 15 (Minutes)
July 31, 2017
Many members of the House of Representatives are still trying to figure out how to say Suo-zzee, but after the freshman Democrat’s surprise victory in a floor vote Thursday afternoon, they probably know who he is.
It started at 11 p.m. Wednesday, when Rep. Tom Suozzi, a member of the Armed Services Committee, got a unanimous vote on a $34 million amendment to require the Navy to fund the remediation of the Northrop Grumman toxic plume in Bethpage. But by late Thursday afternoon, Republicans thought better of it and refused to include the money in a block of changes to the National Defense Authorization Act that would pass overwhelmingly. The Northrop Grumman amendment would have to survive a tough stand-alone vote in the GOP-controlled chamber.
So with 15 minutes’ notice, the scramble was on. Suozzi called fellow Long Islander Peter King, who had agreed to co-sponsor the Northrop Grumman amendment, and the veteran congressman rushed to the floor. At that point, the amendment was losing badly, but Northrop Grumman was the first vote of the day, and the clock was kept running as members straggled in. When they arrived, however, the members took guidance from their party whips on the obscure issue. At one point, the amendment was down by 50 votes.
On C-SPAN video, King could be seen standing in the well of the House asking for votes, while mostly off camera, a frenetic Suozzi said he went up and down the aisles to find Republicans he knew, fellow freshmen, others in the New York delegation, as well as new friends he had made at workouts in gym and at prayer breakfasts. The amendment pulled even 200-200 and staffers for Democrats who hadn’t voted began pointing their bosses out to Suozzi. They wanted a rare win.
The amendment was now up 216 to 209 and Democrats started to applaud, but the GOP put pressure on its members to reverse their votes, it dropped 215-210. Suozzi said Democrats started chanting, “Close the vote!” Seconds later, time was up, with the amendment passing 214-211 at the buzzer.
Suozzi said Democrats came up to congratulate him, but he acknowledged King. “I couldn’t have done it without him,” he told The Point.
Cleaning Up the Navy Grumman Plume
When Tom Suozzi joined Congress, he made federal funding to clean up the Navy Grumman Plume one of his top priorities. As Newsday’s Rita Ciolli reported in July 2017, he got results quickly, wrangling votes on the House floor with Republican Rep. Peter King to secure $34 million for the Navy’s Environmental Restoration Fund in his first Defense Department authorization bill as a member of the House Armed Services Committee.
That achievement was far from Suozzi’s last on this issue. He brought stakeholders together with people like Congressman King and Oyster Bay Town Supervisor Joe Saladino, and he pressured Northrop Grumman and the Navy to finally pay for the clean-up. Suozzi’s years of persistence eventually led the parties to agree to pay $406 million and for Northrop Grumman to pay an additional $104 million for environmental damage caused.
Funding for the Long Island Sound
Pandemic Relief for New York Hospitals
When COVID arrived in the United States in spring 2020, New York was by far the hardest hit state. Unfortunately, the federal government initially provided relief funding to hospitals using a formula based on population, not on case numbers, thus short-changing New York during our time of greatest need.
Tom Suozzi stepped into action, leading the entire bipartisan New York congressional delegation in asking the federal government to provide funding to hospitals based on the number of cases they were dealing with.
Suozzi’s work paid off. One month later, the federal government created a $10 billion fund for “hot spot” hospitals. Because of our case numbers, New York hospitals got $5 billion of the money, providing a vital financial lifeline during their time of greatest need.
Pandemic Relief for the New York State Government and Local Governments
After securing federal dollars for New York hospitals, Suozzi pivoted to employing a similar strategy for state and local governments. Suozzi successfully got included a $49 billion fund for state and local governments, based on number of cases, in The Heroes Act, the COVID proposal passed by House Democrats in May 2020. Suozzi and his fellow Long Islanders kept the pressure on after the Senate initially rejected this sort of proposal.
Once again, Suozzi’s persistence eventually paid off. First, in December 2020, Congress passed a $900 billion COVID relief bill that was negotiated by Suozzi and other members of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus. That bill included $85 billion in relief for state and local governments.
Then, in March 2021, Congress passed the landmark American Rescue Plan, which included a whopping $350 billion for state and local governments to get on more sound financial footing as the country made its way out of the pandemic.
Transformational Investments at the Northport VA Medical Center
Tom worked closely with the Northport VA Medical Center and the Department of Veterans Affairs to improve services at the facility. He invited Republican Congressman Phil Roe, then-Chair of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, to tour the campus and see its issues firsthand.
After that meeting, he successfully worked with President Trump’s Secretary of Veterans Affairs to obtain funding for major infrastructure improvements, including the demolition of decrepit buildings, enhancements to operating rooms, facilities for the homeless, mental health facilities, and heating and ventilation systems.
Directing Federal Dollars to Local Community Projects
Tom Suozzi successfully directed tens of millions of federal dollars to the following projects in New York’s Third District through the process of “Congressionally Directed Spending”:
- $3.5 million to the City of Glen Cove to install a new aeration system at Duck Pond Road Well Station
- $2 million to Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory for its NextGen AI Center for Advanced Cancer Diagnostics
- $2 million to Glen Cove Hospital for its Geriatric Center of Excellence
- $1.39 million to the Village of Northport for its Northport Main Street Flood Mitigation project
- $1 million to the City of Glen Cove for Rehabilitation of the Nancy Court Pump Station
- $1 million to the Town of North Hempstead for North Hempstead Beach Park Phase 1
- $1 million to the Village of Asharoken for the Asharoken Avenue Flood Abatement project
- $1 million to the Center for the Women of New York for career skills and job counseling
- $926,813 to the NYC Emergency Management Department for its Queens Borough Coordination Center
- $850,000 to the Sid Jacobson Jewish Community Center to replace its roof
$750,000 to the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty to provide emergency food assistance
$750,000 to Services Now for Adult Persons of Eastern Queens to construct a state-of-the-art facility
- $600,000 to Save the Sound for Little Neck Bay Stormwater Management
- $500,000 to Long Island Gay and Lesbian Youth, Inc for its LGBT Safe Spaces Program
- $500,000 to India Home, Inc for its South Asian Colon Cancer Health Initiative
- $500,000 to the Roslyn Landmark Society to restore the Roslyn Grist Mill
- $464,500 to Great Neck Senior Center for renovations
- $300,000 to the Village of Sea Cliff and Hempstead Harbor Protection Committee for shellfish seeding
- $294,300 to improve connectivity and accessibility of open spaces at Garvies Point Preserve and Museum
- $250,000 to the YMCA of Long Island to promote healthy lifestyles
- $200,000 to the Colonial Farmhouse Restoration Society of Bellerose for workforce training
- $200,000 to the Queens County Farm Museum for new equipment
- $149,500 to Long Island University for its “Exploring Presidential Stories” project
Once-in-a-Generation Infrastructure Investment
Suozzi was the Vice Chair of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, a group of 30 Republicans and 30 Democrats who met every week to find common ground. The work of the Problem Solvers paid off in a big way. In 2021, they created a framework that eventually became the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill. This once-in-a-generation investment delivered New York tens of billions in federal funding, including $14 billion for roads and bridges and $11 billion for public transit.
Bipartisan Reauthorization for the Helen Keller National Center (HKNC)
In 2022, Suozzi helped lead a bipartisan group to pass the Helen Keller National Center Reauthorization Act, which reauthorized the HKNC, whose Mid-Atlantic regional location is located in Sands Point, through 2027.
This reauthorization will allow HKNC to continue to provide essential vocational training and rehabilitation to the DeafBlind community in our area and across the country. During his six years in Congress, Suozzi helped to nearly double funding for HKNC from $10.3 million in 2017 to $19 million in 2023. HKNC is unique in that it is the only organization of its kind nationwide that serves a population that is both deaf and blind. HKNC enables DeafBlind Americans to live, work, and thrive in our community.