WASHINGTON — Rep. Tom Suozzi, the second-term Democrat from Glen Cove, won a coveted seat on the influential House Ways and Means Committee, Democratic leadership said late Wednesday as it passed over Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of the Bronx.
The pro-business centrist Suozzi will fill the vacancy left by former Rep. Joseph Crowley of Queens despite a campaign behind left-leaning Ocasio-Cortez, who sought the post after ousting Crowley in a primary last year and then winning in November.
The appointment puts Suozzi on a powerful committee that will be central to the Democratic agenda that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has unveiled: taxes, trade and health care, as well as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
Suozzi expressed gratitude to the leadership for selecting him and in a statement vowed “to fight for the national issues voters and American families are concerned about — increasing wages, improving retirement security and reducing healthcare and prescription drug costs.”
But Suozzi said in an interview that his top priority will be to restore full deductions of state and local taxes, often referred to as SALT. He said he will push the committee to approve the bill he co-sponsored with Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) to lift the Republican tax overhaul’s $10,000 SALT cap.
As is customary, Suozzi is expected to relinquish his seats on the Foreign Affairs and Armed Services committees.
Over the past several weeks, Suozzi faced a strong challenge for Crowley’s long-standing New York City seat on Ways and Means by Ocasio-Cortez, whose supporters across the country submitted a petition with more than 100,000 signatures for her.
Progressive and other groups on the party’s left wing attacked Suozzi for being a Wall Street Democrat and centrist as they demanded that Ocasio-Cortez and other more liberal lawmakers be given seats on the four House committees that deal with finances.
But Suozzi prevailed with the backing of the New York Democratic delegation to Congress, including Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn), who took Crowley’s place as House Democratic caucus leader, and the custom of rare first-term appointments to the panel.
“I’ve worked very hard for 25 years,” Suozzi added, noting he has been a CPA, a lawyer, Glen Cove mayor and Nassau County executive, giving him a broad background for the panel.
On Ways and Means, Democratic leaders added longtime Rep. Gwen Moore, Wisconsin’s first black representative, and centrist second-term Rep. Stephanie Murphy of Florida, the first Vietnamese-American woman in Congress.
Ocasio-Cortez could not be reached for comment.