Long Island Reps. Anthony D'Esposito, Nick LaLota and Andrew Garbarino...

Long Island Reps. Anthony D'Esposito, Nick LaLota and Andrew Garbarino cast surprise votes Tuesday for former Rep. Lee Zeldin for House speaker. Credit: James Escher

WASHINGTON — Three of Long Island’s congressmen sent shock waves through the House Tuesday by voting for former Rep. Lee Zeldin for speaker, placing them among the 20 Republicans who voted to block the election of Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan to the constitutional post.

Republican Reps. Anthony D’Esposito of Island Park, Nick LaLota of Amityville and Andrew Garbarino of Bayport cast their votes for Zeldin, a Shirley Republican who served four terms in the House and lost his challenge to New York Gov. Kathy Hochul last year.

"For two weeks, I’ve met & and talked with candidates for Speaker, telling them what’s important to my district. I’ve been up front about withholding my support without reliable commitments on these important issues. When I said I’d always put Long Island First, I wasn’t bluffing," LaLota said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.

After the vote, D’Esposito said in a statement: “I want a Speaker who understands Long Island’s unique needs. Restoring the SALT deduction, safeguarding 9/11 victim support funding, and investing in critical infrastructure are our priorities. I look forward to discussions with candidates."  

Garbarino cited similar issues in a post on X – including 9/11 health care and SALT relief.

“My constituents sent me to Congress to fight for them and put their interests first,” he said. “Lee Zeldin understands the needs of Long Islanders better than anyone. He would have been a great governor, and he would make a great Speaker.”

The three congressmen have not disclosed how they will vote in the second round, although D’Esposito said he intended to seek support for Long Island priorities from Jordan or anyone else seeking to become speaker.

The Long Island votes caught the chamber by surprise when D’Esposito cast the first vote for Zeldin. It appeared to break the dam for protest votes against Jordan, the House Judiciary Committee chairman and a founder of the hard-line conservative House Freedom Caucus.

Jordan needed 217 votes to win election as speaker. He received 200. House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn) won all 212 Democratic votes.

Seven Republicans voted for House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.), who was the previous caucus nominee but also failed to get 217 votes.

House Speaker developments

Speaker Kevin McCarthy was voted out of the job on Oct. 3 in an extraordinary showdown — a first in U.S. history, throwing the House and its Republican leadership into chaos.

All four of Long Island’s Republican congressmen stood by McCarthy as he lost a bitter fight with Rep. Matt Gaetz over his bid to oust him from his office.

Republicans rejected Rep. Jim Jordan for House speaker on a first ballot Tuesday, as an unexpectedly numerous 20 holdouts denied the hard-charging ally of Donald Trump the GOP majority needed to seize the gavel.

Three of Long Island’s congressmen sent shock waves through the House by voting for former Rep. Lee Zeldin for speaker, placing them among the 20 Republicans who voted to block Jordan's election.

Six other Republicans voted for Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), ousted as speaker two weeks ago by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) and seven other conservatives, while four Republicans voted for individual Republican congressmen.

Before the vote, D’Esposito, LaLota and Garbarino sat in a cluster with other members who have opposed some of the hard right’s legislation, including Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.). Bacon became the first Republican during the alphabetical roll call to reject Jordan by voting instead for McCarthy.

Rep. George Santos (R-Nassau/Queens), the fourth Long Island congressman, voted for Jordan. Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-Schuylerville) nominated Jordan for speaker.

It was the second time that Zeldin had won a vote for Speaker. On Jan 3, during the marathon of voting that ended with McCarthy’s victory in the 15th round, Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) cast a protest vote for Zeldin to avoid voting for McCarthy. 

In the first week of January, D’Esposito, LaLota and Garbarino gathered near McCarthy on the House floor and supported him through the 15 votes it took for him to win the speakership.

Two weeks ago, they again stood by him and voted against the motion to vacate, the procedure used to remove the speaker, when Gaetz successfully led eight GOP colleagues to join all Democrats to vote McCarthy out of office as speaker — the first time it had happened in United States history.

Since then, D'Esposito, Garbarino and LaLota first supported the candidacy of Scalise to become speaker, saying he had been to their districts, understood Long Island issues and wasn’t one of the hard-line conservatives.

After Scalise withdrew as the caucus’ nominee, Jordan emerged as the party’s nominee. D’Esposito, LaLota and Garbarino had kept their discussions and decisions to themselves — until their surprise votes on the floor Tuesday.

Zeldin did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

Correction: Former Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) served four terms in the House of Representatives. A previous version of this story misstated his time in office.

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