The New York Conservative Party Political Action Committee met in Albany this week to discuss a variety of topics including redistricting, defeating the New York State Equal Rights Amendment, which is on the ballot in November, and the border.
While he was in town for the event, former U.S. Rep. and gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin dropped by Capital Tonight to discuss New York’s critical role in the congressional elections, among other issues.
“The battle for control of the House, in many respects, will go through New York,” he said.
On redistricting, he and other Republicans are pushing the state’s Independent Redistricting Commission to adopt the current maps to stem the confusion that has arisen out of multiple rounds of map-making.
“It would resolve any confusion or chaos that exists right now,” he said.
Zeldin also added his voice to the chorus of Republican critics of the emerging bipartisan Senate border bill.
While advocates claim the $118.2 billion bill would build more border wall, expand deportation flights and increase ICE officers and border patrol officers, among other things, critics including Zeldin claim the bill doesn’t do enough to stem the flow of migrants across the border.
“It’s a terrible bill and it actually is allowing up to 5,000 people to come to this country illegally per day,” Zeldin said.
According to CNN, if migrant crossings increased above 5,000 on average per day on a given week, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security would be required to use new emergency authority to limit border crossings. Once the authority is triggered, the DHS secretary could decide to largely bar migrants from seeking asylum if they crossed the border unlawfully.
Utah Sen. Mitt Romney and others have claimed that former president and current presidential candidate Donald Trump wants Republicans to oppose the border deal so that he can use the issue against President Joe Biden in the 2024 presidential election.
When asked how a lack of action on the issue might play in swing New York Republican districts, Zeldin said he wasn’t worried.
“If it was a good bill, that would maybe be a different conversation,” he said.
Zeldin, who has been an outspoken advocate for Israel and against antisemitism, was also asked about Rep. Elise Stefanik’s use of the term “hostages” during an interview on NBC’s Meet the Press when referring to Jan. 6 rioters who are currently behind bars.
Specifically, Zeldin was asked if he thought it was offensive to call those imprisoned for Jan. 6 crimes “hostages” when there are actual hostages being held in Gaza being used as pawns in negotiations with Israel.
Stefanik is facing a possible House resolution to censure her for the statement by Rep. Dan Goldman, a New York Democrat, who claimed the statement “demeans” the situation of hostages being held in Gaza following Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel.
Of the question about Stefanik’s remarks, Zeldin made the following statement:
"You're not going to get me to start equating anyone who is in prison in any U.S. prison for any reason anywhere in America to what's going on overseas right now in Gaza,” he said.