BY DOMENICK RAFTER
Editor in Chief
U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan/Queens/Brooklyn) is quick to tell someone that it is still possible to get things done in Washington, even as a member of the minority party.
Maloney, who has represented Astoria and Long Island City in Congress since 1993, is running for a 13th term in the U.S. House of Representatives. She faces a primary challenge from Peter Lindner, a computer programmer from Manhattan, on June 28.
While acknowledging how unpopular Congress is, Maloney rejected the notion that because of the partisan nature of Congress today, it is impossible to get things done. Identifying allocations of funds for the two largest mass transit infrastructure projects in the United States – the East Side Access and Second Avenue Subway – as well as the 9/11 Zadroga Act, which provides funds for healthcare for first responders of 9/11.
“I don’t feel that way,” she said after being asked if she feels powerless in the minority. “The two largest mass transit infrastructure projects in the country are in my district.”
On funding for mass transit projects, Maloney noted that she worked with Republicans, notably former U.S. Sen. Al D’Amato in the 1990s, to secure funding by helping him secure support on her side of the aisle for what he prioritized.
“At the time we were earmarking projects and I’d write a letter and get all the Democrats to support D’Amato’s project and he’d write a letter and get all the Republicans to support my project, and we just moved it through,” she said.
Maloney spoke about the East Side Access project, which will open up a route for the Long Island Rail Road to Grand Central Station, relieving the overcrowding at Penn Station and making commutes easier for LIRR users who work on the East Side of Manhattan. The project will also include a new station at Sunnyside along Skillman Avenue, which was funded by Maloney, but killed by the state. Mayor Bill de Blasio then put money in for it.
“I’m very pleased the mayor put in the funds for a stop in Sunnyside,” she said. “Nothing will do more for this part of Queens than having that stop in Sunnyside.”
Another bill she’s been working on is legislation that would require a benefactor be named when a property is bought. Many times a property is bought by an LLC or some organization, with no name attached to it, and Maloney says often the funds used in the sale go for nefarious causes, including terrorism and drug trafficking.
“It doesn’t cost anything to do it,” she said. “It’s common sense.”
Maloney said her major priorities have mostly been enacted, including restoring aid to New York City, the Second Avenue Subway and most recently the Breast Cancer Awareness Commemorative Coin Act, in which a gold coin will be struck to raise money for breast cancer research, which was signed into law this year. The only thing she regrets not having pushed through is the Equal Rights Amendment, which has been proposed for nearly half a century. Maloney focused on income inequality, noting that the pay disparity between men and women shows up most in old age, when are “almost twice as like as man to live in poverty.”
When asked about her best moment in her career in Congress, she pointed to the weeks and months after the Sept. 11 terrorist attack, when Maloney created a bipartisan 9/11 caucus in Congress that created the 9/11 Commission, which investigated the attacks and made recommendations to improve natural security protocol.
“I think it was the finest hour of Congress,” she said, noting that Congress supported the work the 9/11 Commission did.
“If they needed more time, we gave them more time, if they couldn’t get a subpoena, we helped them,” Maloney said, adding that the report led to the overhaul of the intelligence agencies that have since helped thwart dozens of terrorist attacks.
The 12th Congressional District includes Astoria, Long Island City, Greenpoint and Williamsburg in Brooklyn and most of the East Side of Manhattan including Roosevelt Island.