East End Congressman Lee Zeldin, who was sworn in Tuesday, was one of two freshman members of Congress grilled by Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday, and the freshman congressman wasted no time challenging President Barack Obama’s policies.
Mr. Zeldin defeated six-term Congressman Tim Bishop with 55 percent of the vote last November.
In the opening moments of the brief segment, Mr. Zeldin said that he believes President Obama’s executive action last year on immigration reform is unconstitutional and that he believes Congress should either introduce legislation to block President Obama’s action or withhold funding for the Department of Homeland Security, due for a vote in February, in an attempt to force the president’s hand.
“He thinks that he is a monarch,” said Mr. Zeldin. “All options need to be on the table. We need to use the power of the purse.”
Mr. Bishop had been a supporter of immigration reform, a hot-button issue in last fall’s election.
Mr. Zeldin said on Fox News Sunday he’s “optimistic and confident” that the new Congress will enact tax reform, pass the Keystone XL oil pipeline legislation, improve foreign and veterans’ affairs and pass budgets again, despite his previously-stated willingness to use the power of the purse over immigration reform.
“We’re going to put good solutions on the president’s desk,” he said.
The president is expected to veto the Keystone pipeline bill, and Congress appears likely to fall just short of the number of votes necessary to override the veto.
The full episode is on Hulu here. The segment with Mr. Zeldin is just after the commercial break midway through the program.
Lee Zeldin was sworn in to Congress Tuesday.
Mr. Zeldin, a Major in the Army Reserves who served in Iraq in 2006 and 2007, was named to the House Foreign Affairs Committee and was named co-chair the House Republican Israel Caucus. With the defeat of former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor last year, Mr. Zeldin is now the sole Jewish Republican in Congress.
Mr. Zeldin was backed strongly in the fall election by the Republican Jewish Coalition, which is at stark odds with President Obama’s foreign policy move of negotiating over Iran’s nuclear program.
While East Enders were enjoying a semi-blissful post-election period of political quiet last November, Roll Call magazine on Capital Hill ran a tongue-in-cheek article titled “Lee Zeldin Making Friends All Over Congress,” which consisted primarily of photos from Mr. Zeldin’s Twitter feed of the incoming congressman posing with Capitol Hill decision makers.
The substance of the article revolved around Mr. Zeldin asking New York Senator Charles Schumer if Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel was really Jewish, to which Mr. Israel responded on Twitter by saying “Did my Mazel Tov mean nothing? Am I just chopped liver? Yeah…I’m Jewish!”
Roll Call said Mr. Zeldin had suggested an Obama-style libation-infused reach-across-the-aisle in a “Manischewitz summit” with Mr. Israel to smooth things over, but that summit has not yet happened.
More is sure to come from the Twittering 114th Congress. We’ll keep you apprised. You can follow along with Lee Zeldin’s every move on Twitter here.