In what’s shaping up to be a hotly contested race in New York’s 1st Congressional District – polls have the candidates tied, and even Speaker John Boehner traveled to NY to raise money for Republican Lee Zeldin – in an opening statement, Zeldin “came out swinging” at 6 term Democrat incumbent Tim Bishop, saying it was a “clear choice between a problem solver and a backbencher.”
It would appear Bishop’s primary focus during his 12 years in Washington has been … renaming post offices.
During 12 years in office, Zeldin charged, Bishop has had only four bills signed into law, all renaming post offices. He, however, said he’s had 48 bills passed on a wide range of issues including protecting military families, cutting taxes, eliminating the MTA payroll tax and elimination of the saltwater fishing license fee.
For his part, Bishop said, “he was proud of the post offices….” Zeldin also seemed to not mind going after Bishop on some hot button issues, including immigration.
Sparring began in earnest as the candidates answered a series of questions. On the issue of securing the nation’s borders, Zeldin first discussed the unaccompanied immigrant children “surging across the borders”; he said he believed the children should be detained humanely and then “expeditiously” reunited with their parents in their home countries. Sending children with coyotes over the border is not only dangerous, but is “the wrong message to be sending,” he said, adding that he is opposed to amnesty. “We do not have the bandwidth as a nation to open up our borders.”
Instead, Zeldin said border patrol officers should get “off baby-sitting duty and do the job they were trained to do.” Improved technology at the borders is also important, he said.
It’s difficult to imagine those looking closely at the border situation today viewing it as having made “progress,” which was Bishop’s defense.
Bishop said the question posed was broader than just refugee children and said in his 12-year tenure, the number of border protection agents has doubled, as has the budget; billions, the congressman added, have been spent in border technology. In addition, he said, the number of undocumented immigrants crossing the border yearly has dropped from 1.5 million to 500,000. “That’s real progress,” Bishop said. “We obviously have a way to go and we have to keep working at it.”