U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) has been appointed to fill the vacant seat on the House Ways and Means Committee left by former Rep. Joe Crowley.
Crowley’s successor in the 14th District, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-Bronx) had also contended for the seat, which has traditionally been reserved for a member of Congress from downstate New York.
Wall Street-friendly Suozzi’s appointment came despite criticism from progressive groups that he was pro-business and further right than his Democratic base.
The second-term congressman also serves as vice chair of the Problem Solvers Caucus, a bipartisan group comprising 24 Democrats and 24 Republicans as well as being involved with the New Democrat Coalition, a group of pro-business Democrats who support growth initiatives and a balanced budget.
If Ocasio-Cortez had been selected for the seat, she hoped to push forward a progressive campaign, namely the Green New Deal, a proposal she and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) spearheaded.
Suozzi told the Intercept in an interview that he supported the Green New Deal and described himself as fiscally conservative.
Ways and Means is the oldest committee in the U.S. Congress and is tasked with tax-writing and overseeing all revenue-related activities, such as tariffs, and programs, like Medicaid and Social Security.
The committee is important in achieving the priorities set by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in her finance-heavy agenda for the Democratic majority of the House, which includes improvements to infrastructure that may require a gas tax and a reduction in prescription drug costs.
Suozzi said in a news release that he will also fight to reduce the cost of prescription drugs as well as health care and work to increase wages and improve retirement security.
Locally, he will work to pass legislation to restore full federal tax deductions for state and local taxes, which were limited under the Republican-passed tax bill, a financial blow for many taxpayers in his district.
A bill to reinstate the full deduction introduced by Suozzi and U.S. Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) is currently in front of the Committee on Ways and Means.
Suozzi also hopes to use his newly attained oversight to achieve more equality for New Yorkers in regard to federal taxes. A news release from his office estimates that state taxpayers pay $36 billion to $46 billion in annual income tax that is not reinvested back into the state.
Suozzi expressed his gratitude to the Democratic leadership, U.S. House Rep. Richard Neal (D-Massachusetts), who chairs the committee, his colleagues, and the New York delegation for their help with his assignment.