I watched the new Congress take its oath of office, which is essentially the same oath I took when joining the government 28 years ago [“House gavel is again Pelosi’s,” News, Jan. 4]. The difference is, I took my oath seriously. Congress has failed to pass the federal budget on time every year since 1997.
I have been through six shutdowns and four pay freezes, yet I always have performed to the best of my ability. I have gone years without taking a sick day, yet every year, federal workers like myself are treated like pawns in a political chess game that ultimately has no winners.
The money these shutdowns cost the taxpayers far exceeds the dollars the politicians are fighting over. The current shutdown will cost us all much more than the $5 billion the president wants for border security.
It is time for all of the politicians, be they Republicans or Democrats, to look up the word “compromise,” honor their oaths, start to truly represent their constituents and end the government shutdown.
Jeffrey Sussman, Merrick
Editor’s note: The writer is facility operations manager for the General Services Administration in Washington.
Varied views on the new Congress
I am thrilled that our new Congress is more diverse, and this means that more varied points of views will be explored as these members look to the future of our country in a positive way. My concern is, do these new members of Congress know that they are representatives of the people? That is, will they carry out what the people want and not bring their own agenda to the table?
This will be the important thing to watch; we have two senators from New York who do not listen to their constituents, but rather bring their own agendas to the table and fight for the win at all costs. Sen. Chuck Schumer has flip-flopped on the border wall; once he supported funding it, but now is leading the opposition. I have written to him repeatedly and received no response. I believe Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand puts an undue emphasis on electing women apparently based mostly on on their gender. This is destructive behavior. Hopefully our new diverse Congress will not be this way, but will listen to the views of their constituents.
Robert Damato, Floral Park
At the start of the historic 116th Congress, Democrats voted for strength in leadership while Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City) cast a protest vote for Stacey Abrams, the losing candidate for Georgia governor, for House speaker.
Rice, a Republican until 2005, when she ran for Nassau County district attorney, is a conservative Democrat who threw in her lot with other Democrats who opposed Pelosi after she got to Congress and has built a reputation based on independence from her party — and Pelosi.
Rice has said her attacks on Pelosi were not personal, but accused her of using “fear and intimidation” to dissuade challenges to leadership. Rice’s call for “a generational change in leadership” at least sounds like ageism and makes little sense. Pelosi has done a good job, so why do we need someone younger? Rice has not identified someone who can count votes the way Pelosi can.
Democrats, including new House members like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-Bronx), Rice’s constituents, and even her cohorts, know that Pelosi is the right person to lead the House right now. Rice’s unwillingness to read the room may cost her her seat in 2020, and she has been warned.
Zara Friedman, Rockville Centre
This new year brings with it a modicum of new hope. The good people who make up the new Democratic majority in the House of Representatives have begun to speak in earnest for their constituents, as well as millions of Americans whose values we closely share. This Congress will be on the world stage as its newly sworn leaders travel a hard journey to normalcy. No one has an easy job ahead.
There was no woman elected president in 2016, but America now has more than three dozen new female voices in the House. This promises to be a Broadway hit with a cast representing a diversity of colors, creeds, ethnicities and mindset. Get ready to watch a well-written, fact-based tale about overcoming villains in a dysfunctional government.
Kathleen Young, Northport
Haitian immigrants need action on DACA
Many immigrants from Haiti are affected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and the proposed Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act (DREAM), but Democrats in Congress have failed to move the ball on either.
President Donald Trump expressed some willingness last year to negotiate funding for the Southern border wall in exchange for DACA and the Dreamers, but where is our own congressman, Gregory Meeks (D-St. Albans), whom many Haitians in the 5th District have voted for?
I have not heard or read any recent statements from Meeks on meeting the president halfway for Haitians affected by DACA and the DREAM Act to be placed on a path to citizenship. Haitian community representatives and voters should flood the offices of Meeks and other members of Congress with calls to demand action. If they continue to vote for these Democratic representatives every election, they cannot remain passive by not demanding they negotiate on their behalf.
David Duchatellier, Elmont