Ex-Democratic Rep. Tom Suozzi split from President Biden and other party leaders Tuesday, announcing that he backs a House Republican bill to provide additional assistance to Israel in its war against Hamas.
Suozzi, a former three-term congressman from New York’s 3rd District, is locked in a tough campaign against Republican Mazi Pilip — an Ethiopia-born Jew who served in the Israeli military — ahead of the Feb. 13 special election to replace expelled ex-Rep. George Santos.
The district, which covers parts of Nassau County and Queens, has a sizeable Jewish and pro-Israel constituency — whose votes could decide who becomes the next congressman.
Biden and both Democratic leaders from New York — Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn) — prefer to pass a massive $118 billion package that includes $20 billion to boost border security and $60 billion in aid to Ukraine as well as $14 billion for Israel.
But House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) and other Republican leaders in the lower chamber have said taking up the larger bill would be a “waste of time” and offered up a proposal for $17.6 billion in support just to Israel that was due to be voted on later Tuesday.
Biden has vowed to veto the separate bill, with the White House budget office calling it “another cynical political maneuver” by Republicans in an election year.
“The Administration strongly encourages both chambers of the Congress to reject this political ploy and instead quickly send the bipartisan Emergency National Security Supplemental Appropriations Act to the President’s desk,” the administration said.
“I support this bill and disagree with the President and Members of the Democratic Party who do not support it,” the 61-year-old said in a statement early Tuesday.
“While I would prefer that the House Republicans support the comprehensive bipartisan package in the Senate that supports Israel, Ukraine, and Taiwan and FINALLY addresses the border, my unequivocal support for Israel demands that I support this stand-alone bill,” he added.
Suozzi emphasized that Hamas’ Oct. 7 invasion of Israel that killed an estimated 1,200 people and led to the taking of more than 200 hostages, was the worst attack on Jews since the Holocaust.
“People are tired of this political theater from both parties, they want results,” he said.
“I’m committed to doing whatever it takes to stand with our ally Israel, getting all of our hostages home, defeating Hamas, and, ultimately, working toward peace and addressing the humanitarian destruction caused by this conflict.”
Pilip also said she supported the stand-alone bill.
“As a former IDF soldier, I support the Israel aid bill completely. Standing strong with our nation’s closest ally as it battles Hamas terrorists is one of my top priorities,” said the 47-year-old Nassau County legislator from Great Neck.
But Pilip said Suozzi could not run away from Biden and Democratic leadership’s decision to abandon Israel in its time of need.
“I am disappointed that House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries is not standing with Israel.
Tom Suozzi, if he were to be elected, would be a member of the Minority Leader’s team,” she said.
It’s not the first time Suozzi has bucked Biden and other Dems — having said last week he did not want the president’s endorsement, vowed to fight lefty democratic socialists including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez over policy issues, and complained that New York City progressives’ anti-cop policies were hurting moderate Democrats.
Tuesday marked the fourth of nine days of early voting before the special election.
As of 2:30 p.m., 26,203 Nassau residents in the district had voted –11,280 Democrats, 9,309 Republicans, 4,929 unaffiliated voters and nearly 1,000 others from minor parties.
Through Monday, 3,519 Queens residents had voted.