Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) and Democratic challenger Anna Throne-Holst on Tuesday traded attacks on the Affordable Care Act and funding for an anti-opioid bill in their final debate before the November 8 election.
The candidates in the 1st Congressional District said they would work with opposing party members to get legislation passed during a FiOS 1 News debate at Suffolk Community College’s Riverhead campus.
Zeldin pointed to bipartisan bills he worked on as a state senator and congressman, while Throne-Holst touted her record as Southampton supervisor and on the town board.
They disagreed sharply on the effectiveness of the current Congress.
Zeldin pointed to bills that were passed, including the Zadroga Act that provides health care for 9/11 first responders.
“You can’t ignore everything that has been done,” Zeldin said.
Throne-Holst called Congress “dysfunctional” and said Zeldin was counting “rubber stamp” bills.
“The big stuff that matters to people and matters to District 1 are not getting done,” she said.
The candidates have been crisscrossing the Eastern Long Island district, participating in more than 20 debates and candidate forums over the past month.
Speaking in an auditorium filled with students, Zeldin asked voters to consider the differences between himself and Throne-Holst.
“I don’t believe Nancy Pelosi should be the next Speaker of the House,” Zeldin said of the House Democratic leader. “I do believe that we should strengthen national security, keeping Guantánamo Bay open, opposing the Iran nuclear deal, thwarting the Syrian refugee program.”
Throne-Holst said, “I’m running for Congress because Congress isn’t working.” She said it has failed to pass comprehensive immigration reform and changes to the tax structure that would benefit the middle class.
“My four kids don’t live on Long Island,” she said. “They can’t afford to live here or find the jobs.”
Asked by FiOS 1’s Richard French about companies outsourcing jobs, Zeldin said the corporate tax rate has to be lowered to make the United States more competitive with other nations.
“In order to allow young Americans to be able to start their families here on Long Island and not in the basement of Mom and Dad’s house, there need to be more good-paying private sector jobs,” Zeldin said.
Throne-Holst said the Affordable Care Act needs fixes, including elimination of a tax on so-called “Cadillac” health care plans and enabling Medicare and Medicaid to negotiate prescription drug costs.
Zeldin said the Republican health care plan, passed by Congress and vetoed by President Barack Obama, would have been an effective way to replace the Affordable Care Act.
Throne-Holst said Congress had passed a bill to combat opioid addictions, but failed to properly fund it.
Zeldin said Congress had set aside sufficient money.