After falling short in a bid for state attorney general earlier this year, New York Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney easily won re-election to a fourth term in Tuesday’s midterm elections. The 18th District Democrat has some big ideas for infrastructure and hopes to move them forward when his party takes control of the House next year. WAMC’s Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Allison Dunne has more from a press call Maloney held with reporters Wednesday.
Health care, addressing veterans’ issues, the opioid epidemic, clean water and infrastructure top Maloney’s list of priorities in the New Year. Maloney, who defeated Republican Orange County legislator James O’Donnell, hopes to make headway in a broad area.
“I’m extending my hand to the president to work on infrastructure especially,” Maloney says.
Maloney says he wants to see better connectivity between Newburgh and Beacon.
“I think we should use our imagination and we should think big, including projects like potential gondola service between the two cities, better bus to rapid transit access; and, eventually the possibility of rail extending from Port Jervis through Middletown, the airport, Newburgh, to Beacon,” says Maloney.
By gondola, he refers to something akin to the Roosevelt Island aerial tram service in New York City.
“Imagine a Hudson Valley where you had high-speed gondola service connecting Stewart Airport to Newburgh to Beacon, maybe even extending to the top of Mount Beacon for tourists,” Maloney says. “That’s a project that exists in my imagination but it’s the kind of thing we need to start thinking about to better connect our cities and to connect the tourism and commuting economies in a way that will really accelerate economic growth and to make sure that growth is felt by all of our people wherever they live.”
“I plan to have some very ambitious proposals in this area over the coming months. I look forward to working with the governor on this,” Maloney says. “And as the senior New Yorker on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, I’m going to be in a real position to do something about it.”
On another topic, Maloney says having the Democratic majority will break an impasse on passing the Farm Bill and increase his capacity to further focus the bill on Hudson Valley needs, in such areas as crop insurance, helping dairy farmers, land conservation, research and pest control. Maloney says he will focus on new and younger farmers. Maloney notes that the Farm Bill expired September 30, orphaning 37 programs in terms of their authorization but he says no damage has yet been done. Even before Democrats take control, he hopes Congress can agree on a Farm Bill before 2018 ends. If not, he says the bill can be extended. Meantime, as for potential challenges to Nancy Pelosi’s House leadership.
“I think we’re going to have a big conversation about leadership, and I don’t know where that’s going to end up,” says Maloney. “And right now I’m going to keep my powder dry.”
Maloney says holding the president accountable is important, but he’s focused elsewhere.
“The North Star that should guide our efforts is getting things done that help the people we represent. That’s what we get paid to do. All this other nonsense has taken on way too much importance and I think people on both sides of the political aisle really want us to sit down and work together. I know everybody says that but I really mean it. I’ve got a record of doing that. That’s exactly what I plan to do when I go back to Washington,” Maloney says. “And I think the smartest thing the new Democratic majority can do is deliver results for the people we represent and stop playing politics with everything. Focus on results, and the politics will take care of itself.”
Maloney says he looks forward to working with his new congressional neighbor in the 19th District.
“I’m so excited to have a partner like Antonio down in Washington. He and I are going to great things done together for the entire Hudson Valley. We’ll have a great, great capacity to work together and deliver results for the communities we represent. We get along great,” says Maloney. “I’ve been working closely with him since he announced his campaign. And I’ve been so impressed with his intellect and his work ethic and the campaign he ran.”
Delgado defeated freshman Republican John Faso, who President Trump took to task at the end of a list of congressional Republicans who lost on Election Day.
“John Faso, those are some of the people that decided for their own reason not to embrace, whether it’s me or what we stand for, but what we stand for meant a lot to most people,” Trump said.
A spokesman for Faso declined to comment.