After four years in Washington, Democrat Kathleen M. Rice is finding her voice. Now she just has to use it loudly for the good of her district and Long Island.
Perhaps Rice’s most public splash was in her push against House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. But beyond the internal politics and procedural fights of the House of Representatives, Rice, 53, has clear priorities — gun violence, health care and immigration rank as the top three. She supports universal background checks and wants to prevent those on the no-fly list from buying guns. She wants to find fixes for Obamacare, protect Dreamers and provide border security. She’s right that there should be ways to get to bipartisan agreement, and she’s right to be frustrated by the House’s inability to get any of them done.
Rice’s position as ranking member of the homeland security subcommittee on counterterrorism and intelligence has given her an important perspective on the infrastructure upgrades the country and the region require, as she appropriately focuses on the need to harden security, especially for cyber and energy infrastructure. If Democrats take control of the House, she will have a platform to do so.
Rice, a Garden City resident, is not as focused on or as present as she should be in her district, which stretches from Atlantic Beach to Mineola. That’s not a new criticism. She laments that she can’t spend more time on Long Island, but she can do more. Her attention to the national political landscape or internal House leadership reforms should not come at the expense of her district. Passionately advocating for causes she has long cared about, from combating drunken driving to care for veterans, should be a priority.
Bellmore Republican Ameer Benno is a civil rights and constitutional law attorney. Benno’s father came to the United States from Israel, but Benno argues for a strict merit-based immigration system and an asylum policy limited to taking in those subjected to ethnic and religious prosecution, rather than also for poor economic conditions or violence. He won’t take a position on whether climate change is man-made, and he argues that the federal government should focus on South Shore flood preparedness, but not on rising sea levels or the increasing intensity of storms.
Benno, 42, is right to put a spotlight on the need for infrastructure dollars. But his focus is on the Long Island Rail Road, which doesn’t receive federal funds, and he discounts the need to build the Gateway rail tunnel under the Hudson River, a critically important project for the region.
Newsday endorses Rice.
— The editorial board