U.S. Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City) is running for re-election unopposed in the Democratic primary on June 23. If elected, this will be her fourth term in office.
District 4 comprises central and southern Nassau County, including Floral Park, Garden City, Hempstead, Mineola, Carle Place, New Hyde Park and Westbury.
In the Republican primary, Cindy Grosz and Douglas Tuman are vying for the chance to go up against Rice in the general election.
Tuman is the commissioner of engineering for the Town of Hempstead. His campaign platform centers around infrastructure improvements, making the community more livable for new families and the elderly and implementing solutions to global warming that align with capitalism.
Grosz, a Long Island native who attended the Hewlett-Woodmere schools, is a columnist, radio personality and Jewish activist. She has written for publications including The Times of Israel and The Reactionary Times, and is a contributor and co-host on “The Jersey Joe Show.” She is an outspoken supporter of President Donald Trump.
Rice’s top priority is helping school districts, small businesses, hospitals and nursing homes recover from the coronavirus pandemic, she told Blank Slate Media in an email.
She said that beyond providing these entities with “targeted financial relief,” she seeks to help them develop and implement plans to avoid recurrent coronavirus surges, as well as to combat future pandemics.
“Long Island is getting ready to re-open, and that’s a good thing,” Rice said. “But we need to make sure that our critical services and local municipalities have the tools they need to operate safely and successfully in the weeks and months to come.”
“We have to do more than just bounce back from this crisis, we need to learn from this experience and become more resilient in the same way that we did after Superstorm Sandy.”
She added that robust federal investment is necessary for this to happen. This federal aid should be used to help create jobs, provide relief to local businesses and help the families that have been most affected, said Rice.
Specifically, she has pushed for expansion of the Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan, which aid small businesses struggling as a result of the pandemic. Rice said that she has also advocated for the expansion of unemployment insurance for gig workers, independent contractors and self-employed workers.
Low-income areas and communities of color were disproportionately hard hit by the coronavirus crisis. Hempstead, Elmont and Freeport have been severely impacted by the outbreak, Rice said.
“The most important thing we can do to address this is to increase testing capacity, and I have supported local efforts to open up new testing locations in these communities that are free and easy to access,” she said.
Acknowledging that the cost of housing is also an issue that families in low-income areas are facing right now, Rice supported a provision in the HEROES Act passed last week that would increase short-term rental assistance by expanding the Emergency Solutions Grant Program. She also fought for a provision that would broaden forbearance relief for all homeowners, regardless of whether they have a federally owned or backed mortgage, and ban servicers from demanding a lump sum payment immediately following the forbearance period.
The next round of federal funding needs to include relief for state and local governments, said Rice.
“Supporting state and local government means addressing lost revenue and providing relief for health care workers, first responders, police officers, firefighters, teachers, and other public workers on the front lines,” she said, adding that her district desperately needs this aid.
“We need another injection of federal funding across the board,” she said. “Families need more stimulus payments, small business programs need more funding, and our hospitals, nursing homes, and other health care facilities need more resources to ensure they can keep fighting this virus.”
Rice added that the focus on rebuilding after the coronavirus does not mean that she has lost sight of the issues facing her district prior to the pandemic that continue to affect her constituents.
“That includes the need for immigration reform and gun control legislation, action to combat climate change, and of course, repealing the harmful cap on SALT deductions,” she said, referring to a $10,000 cap on deductions for state and local taxes when calculating federal income taxes.
Rice explained that the House has passed measures to address many of these issues over the past year and a half, but the Republican-controlled Senate has refused to act on any of these bills.
“Nevertheless, I will remain committed to fighting for these priorities in the next Congress,” she said. “Many of these issues, especially common-sense gun control legislation, have broad support among both the Democratic and Republican electorate. There is no reason why we should let politics get in the way of saving lives.”
This past year, Rice worked with a bipartisan group made up of House and Senate members to introduce the Younger Onset Alzheimer’s Act, in order to help families struggling with the disease access the resources and support that are currently offered to citizens age 60 or older under the Older Americans Act. The bill recently passed the Senate and was signed into law by President Donald Trump.
“The original idea for the bill came from a constituent of mine here on Long Island who lost her husband to Younger-Onset Alzheimer’s disease,” Rice explained. “It’s been incredible to watch this process develop from one meeting with a constituent to a bill on the floor of the House and Senate that will ultimately help hundreds of thousands of families across the country.”
Rice said that one of her central responsibilities as a Congress member is to act as a liaison between her constituents and the federal government.
“I’m incredibly proud of how successful my office has been in helping my constituents navigate this vast and often overwhelming system,” she said.
She said that over the past five years, her caseworkers have helped her constituents secure more than $10 million in Social Security, VA, FEMA, disability and 9/11 victims compensation fund benefits and savings. Additionally, they have assisted constituents with the immigration process and helped local Jewish organizations secure more than $4 million in federal grant money to increase security.
“In recent years, we’ve seen an alarming increase in attacks on houses of worship across the country, including the tragic Tree of Life Synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh and the Monsey Hanukkah stabbing here in New York,” Rice said. “It’s critical that we provide every worshipper in our community with the security and peace of mind they rightfully deserve and I will continue to advocate for this funding on behalf of any organization in my district that needs it.”