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It’s now up to NY’s top court to nix Dems’ latest bid to rig elections

July 14, 2023

New York Post

By John Faso

In their insatiable quest for more political power, Democrats are savoring Thursday’s appellate court decision ordering a do-over for congressional redistricting.

If New York’s courts are to sustain a shred of institutional dignity, that decision must be overturned in the Court of Appeals when it hears the case this fall.

Democrats claim the CoA’s ruling last year — that Democrats’ gerrymander of state congressional districts was unconstitutional — only applied to 2022.

They argue that the Independent Redistricting Commission should be ordered back to work to recraft the state’s 26 congressional districts. 

Unsurprisingly, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries pulls out the race card, contending that the districts crafted by an outside expert after the courts rejected the Legislature’s plan do not reflect “the racial, ethnic, cultural, regional and socio-economic diversity” of the state. 

The appellate court majority opinion laughably argues that returning this process to the Democratic majority in the Legislature will ensure “transparency” and more public participation.

Nonsense. Turning this process over to lawmakers creates just another chance for Democrats to win seats via backrooms in DC and Albany.

It has nothing to do with transparency or the desires of the public.

As the dissenters to Thursday’s ruling point out, the case brought by Democrats has several fatal flaws.

First, it was brought too late.

They had four months from when the commission process broke down last year to bring their case.

They missed that deadline.

Thursday’s decision held that since legislators passed a separate law giving their body discretion to pass its own redistricting plan if the commission failed to do so, this case was brought on time. 

Except for one problem: The Court of Appeals last year found that law unconstitutional since it attempted to change a constitutional provision with a mere statute.

The Court of Appeals can make short work of this case on that basis alone.

Second, the state Constitution contains explicit provisions against mid-decade redistricting, and the only remedy when the Legislature fails to act is a court-ordered plan that lasts a decade.

Democrats argued last year that if they lost, the court should send the issue back to the Legislature for repair, and that course was rejected by the court.

Court arguments are one thing. But the reality of what Democrats are attempting is something else. 

This case is a blatant power grab by state and national Democrats.

Unhappy that they were caught red-handed last year trying to rig districts in their favor, they’re now back again with phony arguments about transparency and fairness. 

In fact, the gerrymander they passed last year would have resulted in just four Republicans being elected to Congress. 

Fair districts drawn by an impartial expert resulted in 11 GOP victories.

New York has the most competitive congressional seats in the nation, and those seats remain up for grabs next year.

Redrawing districts now would create real uncertainty for candidates and mass confusion for the public.

Certainly, both parties across the nation attempt to gain political advantage in the redistricting process.

That’s why New York voters in 2014 adopted strict prohibitions against political gerrymandering and created a precise process for how district lines were to be drawn.

The 2014 amendment was a check on the unbridled power of the state Legislature to act in a partisan fashion.

This case now goes back to the Court of Appeals, which won national acclaim last year with its seminal decision upholding the state constitutional provisions against partisan gerrymandering. 

Ominously, Albany Democrats and Jeffries issue thinly veiled threats against the courts, threatening judicial independence. 

Hyper-partisan pols, such as state Sen. Mike Gianaris, even propose abolishing the merit-based nominating process for CoA judges.

The court and its new Chief Judge Rowan Wilson face a stark choice: Capitulate to the political demands of ruling Democrats or stand up for the state Constitution and the independence of the judiciary. 

We’ll soon find out which choice they make.

John J. Faso served in Congress and the state Assembly. He was a 2006 GOP candidate for governor.

To Brooklyn and back: Mondaire Jones gave up quickly on his new home

July 9, 2023

New York Daily News

When freshman Congressman Mondaire Jones had his Rockland/Westchester district scrambled last May, he moved to Carroll Gardens to run in a Lower Manhattan/Brooklyn constituency. He wrote an op-ed in these pages declaring his affinity for the area.

When we interviewed him last summer, he said that win or lose the Aug. 23 primary, he was in Brooklyn to stay. After coming in third with 18%, he soon decamped back to Westchester. Now he’s running from there. Politics by moving van.

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House Democrats face possible primary headaches

July 9, 2023


By Josh Kraushaar

While Democrats hold a fighting chance to win back the House majority in 2024, the emergence of problematic candidates and messy primaries in several key races could complicate their path.

Why it matters: The Democrats’ House campaign committee doesn’t plan on getting involved in contested primaries, according to officials familiar with its strategy. That runs the risk that weaker candidates could emerge in must-win races — a dynamic that Republicans are very familiar with.

Driving the news: Jamie McLeod-Skinner, a progressive attorney who lost an Oregon district that Biden carried by nine points in 2022, is planning to seek a rematch against Rep. Lori Chavez-DeRemer (R-Ore.).

  • But Democratic state Rep. Janelle Bynum is already in the race — and said House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) encouraged her to run.
  • A co-owner of McDonald’s franchises, Bynum is seen by party leaders as a more business-friendly candidate better positioned to win swing voters.

What we’re watching: Democrats are also facing a potential primary headache involving the suburban northern New Jersey seat of Rep. Tom Kean Jr. (R-N.J.) — a true bellwether district.

  • Sue Altman, the leader of the progressive Working Families Party in New Jersey, was the first Democrat to enter the race and announced raising over $200,000 in the recent fundraising quarter.
  • Democrats privately worry that her profile — she led protests against neighboring Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.) for his moderate record — makes it harder for them to win the seat, but no obvious alternative has emerged. Roselle Park Mayor Joseph Signorello, former State Department official Jason Blazakis and former state Sen. Raymond Lesniak are all mulling runs.

Between the lines: In one of the marquee House Democratic primaries, two candidates with solid political pedigrees are squaring off.

  • Former Rep. Mondaire Jones and local school board trustee Liz Gereghty (better known as the sister of Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer) are running in a primary to face Rep. Mike Lawler (R-N.Y.), one of Democrats’ top targets.
  • Jones, a recognizable former congressman and CNN commentator, starts out as the primary front-runner, according to Democrats tracking the race — but some worry his progressive record could alienate crime-conscious moderates.
  • After winning his first congressional election in 2020, Jones tweeted: “We must reimagine our criminal legal system” in a call to reduce mass incarceration. Notably, in his campaign kickoff video, he touts an endorsement from a local policeman who says he “funded the police.”
  • Crime was the top issue for New York voters in last year’s midterms, as Republicans picked up three Democratic-held House seats in the Empire State despite an otherwise disappointing election. Lawler defeated DCCC chair Sean Patrick Maloney in one of the GOP’s signature 2022 victories.

The other side: Republicans have a few primary red flags of their own. Joe Kent, the right-wing candidate who lost to Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (D-Wash.) in a district Trump carried, is running again for Congress.

What they’re saying: “Candidate choices in the key districts are going to matter — and if primary voters make a poor choice or two, it could have a major impact on the overall landscape,” said Kyle Kondik, the managing editor at Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics.

The bottom line: With primary voters often preferring ideologically-driven candidates, an urgent task for both parties is ensuring electable nominees emerge in battleground races.

  • The GOP’s hands-off approach in 2022 likely cost the party several Senate seats, prompting the Republicans’ Senate campaign arm to engage more aggressively in primaries this year.
  • Democrats, facing ideological divisions in their own party, could be forced to make similarly tough decisions if problematic candidates emerge.

Congressman Mike Lawler Reaffirms Commitment to Veterans at New City Veterans Town Hall

July 2, 2023

Monsey Scoop

Congressman Mike Lawler addressed a gathering of veterans from various parts of Rockland County during his Veterans Town Hall held in New City on Friday.

The event, organized by American Legion Post 1682, provided an opportunity for Congressman Lawler to express his commitment towards tirelessly assisting veterans and ensuring they receive the necessary support and entitlements they deserve.

He emphasized that he and his team will persistently work towards serving veterans’ needs.

‘US-India ties one of most defining, consequential partnerships of 21st century’: Congressman Mike Lawler ahead of PM Modi’s visit

June 16, 2023

Times of India

WASHINGTON: US Representative Mike Lawler on Thursday (local time) said that he is looking forward to welcoming Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the US Capitol and hearing his address to a joint session of the US Congress during his (PM Modi) upcoming state visit to the US.

Lawler said that India and US have an “important strategic” partnership, and added that it is one of the most defining and consequential partnerships of the 21st century.

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US House of Reps. promotes special envoy role to advance Abraham Accords

June 14, 2023

The Jerusalem Post

By Tovah Lazaroff

The US House of Representatives has passed a bipartisan bill to create the diplomatic position of ambassador for the Abraham Accords to help advance Israel’s normalization with its Arab neighbors, particularly with Saudi Arabia.

“The addition of a special envoy will be critical for bringing Saudi Arabia into the accords and continuing to strengthen and expand them,” Rep. Mike Lawler (R-New York) said.

According to the bill, which was approved in a 413-13 vote on Tuesday evening, the new envoy “would serve as the primary advisor to, and coordinate efforts across, the US Government relating to expanding and strengthening the Abraham Accords.”

The envoy would “engage in discussions with nation-state officials lacking official diplomatic relations with Israel regarding the Abraham Accords,” the bill says.

Such an envoy would “consult with representatives of nongovernmental organizations that have attempted to expand and strengthen the Abraham Accords,” it says.

The bill’s passage was a testament to the strong bond between Israeli and the United States, Lawler said.

“The overwhelming bipartisan support for my bill shows that working for peace in the Middle East isn’t a Republican value or a Democrat value, but rather an American value,” he said.

“Israel remains our strongest ally and a beacon of democracy in the region,” he added. “The Abraham Accords not only guarantee Israel’s recognition by its neighbors, but also present the hope of continued progress toward peace and prosperity across the region.

“We have never been closer to peace in the Middle East than we are today, and that is something that all of us, regardless of party or policy differences, can celebrate,” Lawler said.

Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-New York), who co-sponsored the bill, said: “We are bending the long arc of the Middle East in its proper direction – toward peace and prosperity for Jewish people, Christians and Muslims – the children of Abraham standing together as one.”

“The Senate should move swiftly to consider and pass this legislation, advancing it to the president’s desk so we can codify the role of special envoy for the Abraham Accords into law,” he added.

Biden administration working to expand Abraham Accords

Passage of the bill, which now moves to the Senate, comes as the Biden administration is actively seeking to expand the accords created under the Trump administration, by which Israel normalized its ties with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan.

The Biden administration has focused on a normalization deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke about the Biden administration’s desire to create such a position when he addressed the American Israel Public Affairs Committee earlier this month.

There has been some speculation that former US ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro could be tapped to fill the role.

Lawler centers Abraham Accords in approach to Middle East, antisemitism

June 5, 2023

Jewish Insider

By Marc Rod

In his first six months on Capitol Hill, freshman Rep. Mike Lawler (R-NY) has established himself as a lawmaker to watch on Israel and antisemitism policy.

In just the past week, Lawler has spearheaded pieces of legislation that aim to clamp down on antisemitism on college campuses — a response to a recent incident at the City University of New York — and expand oil sanctions on Iran.

The first-term congressman’s district is among the most Jewish in the country, with a significant population of conservative-leaning Orthodox Jews who helped propel Lawler to an underdog win in November against then-Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chief Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY).

In an interview with Jewish Insider in his Capitol Hill office, Lawler tied his work to his “very good relationship” with Jewish voters across the religious spectrum in his district, rising rates of antisemitism in New York in particular and his own personal convictions.

“Nobody should ever be [a] victim to discrimination or hatred or violence because of who they are or what they believe,” Lawler said. “As a practicing Catholic, I believe very strongly in the principle of ‘love thy neighbor as thyself.’ And I think the objective, of course, is to really make sure that as a government that we’re doing right by people and communities, and that we are making laws that protect people.”

Lawler, who said he’s also working to “strengthen the relationship between the United States and Israel,” visited Israel for the first time last month on a trip with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). 

Lawler said that discussions around expanding the Abraham Accords, combating Iran and concerns around the recent Saudi-Iranian detente brokered by China featured prominently in the delegation’s conversations with Israeli leaders. He centered the normalization agreements as a path to addressing a host of issues from security threats to Israel to antisemitism worldwide.

The freshman Republican, who sits on the House Foreign Relations Committee, argued that expanding the circle of normalization will be key to checking Iran’s advances and its nuclear program, in addition to continued military support for Israel.

“With our allies in the region, [we] really need to continue to build relationships to prevent it. That’s why the Saudis are critical, and why the Abraham Accords are so important,” Lawler said. “The more that the relationship between Israel and Arab-majority nations [is] normalized, and there are stronger economic ties and stronger national security ties, I think it really helps isolate Iran in the way that they should be.”

Lawler also predicted that the Abraham Accords will be “pivotal” in moving toward an eventual Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.

“If the Saudis and other Arab majority nations come to the table on this, I think it really will put the Palestinians in a position where they can choose peace and economic prosperity, or to continue down this path,” he said. “The Palestinian Authority needs to come to the table in a way that is focused on peace and economic prosperity.”

He did not voice support for any specific form of Israeli-Palestinian agreement, including a two-state solution, saying that the specific outcome remains “to be seen” and emphasizing that “it’s been talked about for a long time” without success. Lawler said he’s supportive of continued humanitarian aid to the Palestinians as long as strict oversight and accountability are maintained to ensure it does not support terrorism.

Lawler introduced legislation earlier this year urging the creation of a dedicated ambassador-level envoy for the Abraham Accords, which easily passed the Foreign Affairs Committee. He said that creating such a position would help bring Saudi Arabia to the table with Israel, “forcing the administration to take more direct action when it comes to trying to strengthen the Abraham Accords and grow them.”

Lawler described the Saudi-Iran deal brokered by China as “a message to the United States” and said “the president and the administration would be well-advised to act.” 

Some of the potential American concessions Saudi Arabia has floated as part of normalization negotiations are likely to be problematic among Lawler’s Democratic colleagues.

“You have to take all of these requests into consideration and find areas of compromise,” Lawler said. “Nobody’s gonna get everything they want at any of these negotiations.”

McCarthy’s delegation to the Middle East also made a stop in Jordan — which maintains a complicated relationship with Israel and has been attracting increasing criticism over its reluctance to engage with the Abraham Accords, increasing relations with Syria and harboring of a terrorist wanted by the U.S.

“I think the Jordanian king is very aware of all the challenges and circumstances in the Middle East,” Lawler said. “Jordan has been, and continues to be, an ally in the region. And I think certainly, you know, more can and should be done to strengthen the relationship between Jordan and Israel.”

Lawler emphasized the need for a “coordinated response” across the federal government to antisemitism, although he had not yet seen the administration’s antisemitism strategy, which was released hours before his interview with JI.

Lawler particularly highlighted the need to push back on lawmakers and public figures promoting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement targeting Israel, which “contributes greatly to antisemitism… and frankly incites the hatred that we see.”

“Obviously defining it, confronting it, but also from a governmental standpoint, doing everything we can to effectively combat it, to support the State of Israel, to continue to promote economic investment and cooperation,” are key to stemming the tide of antisemitism, Lawler said. “And again, that goes back to why I think it’s so important for the Abrahamic Accords to flourish and to grow. You need to normalize relations with Israel. And I think in doing that, it effectively helps to mitigate some of the antisemitism that we see around the world, but even here in the United States.”

Politically, Lawler is among the most vulnerable members of Congress, hailing from a district that President Joe Biden won by a double-digit margin in 2020, which could turn a deeper blue if New York Democrats are able to draw more favorable maps ahead of the 2024 election.

Lawler — who has become a cable news staple and frequently found himself in the center of the news cycle — has often been a loyal soldier for Republican leadership since taking office, but he has also broken with his party on several prominent occasions. 

He voted against Republican efforts to overturn administrative rules freezing tariffs on the import of solar panels, flipped against a GOP education bill when a provision was added targeting transgender students, and supports red flag gun laws and opposes federal abortion bans. Biden spoke positively about the congressman during a recent visit to his district.

Lawler’s also been considerably cooler about former President Donald Trump than many of his GOP colleagues, calling shortly after the midterms for his party to move on from the former president. Lawler spoke positively at the time about Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Speaking to JI the day after DeSantis announced his presidential campaign, Lawler did not offer specific thoughts on either candidate.

“There needs to be a robust primary and discussion about the future and the party and where we want to go as a party, but the focus should be on the challenges we’re facing, and the future and the American people,” Lawler said. “And ultimately, Republican primary voters will decide who will be the nominee. So we’ll see how this process plays out.”

‘Default was never an option’: House GOP member on why he voted ‘Yes’

June 1, 2023


Rep. Mike Lawler, R-NY, joins Morning Joe to discuss the House’s passing of the Biden-McCarthy debt ceiling deal and why he voted yes.

Lawler Praises Debt Ceiling Deal Between GOP & White House

May 30, 2023

The Putnam County News & Recorder

By Eric Gross

Putnam County Congressman Mike Lawler commended House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and President Joe Biden for hammering out a tentative deal that addresses the nation’s debt ceiling. While in Carmel on Sunday attending a Memorial Day observance at the Carmel Veterans Hall, Lawler said in an exclusive interview that capping spending at 1 percent for the next six years has resulted…

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Republican Rep. Mike Lawler talks debt ceiling fight

May 25, 2023

Spectrum News

By Susan Arbetter

Congressional Republicans and President Biden are in a high-stakes showdown over raising the debt ceiling.

In a letter to Congress, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said “it is highly likely” the government will be unable to pay all the nation’s bills after June 1, one week away.

According to Democrats, Republicans are threatening to blow up the economy unless Biden agrees to shrink the social safety net. According to Republicans, Democrats are already tanking the economy by spending recklessly. 

The latest, according to the Associated Press, is that President Biden has agreed to hold spending flat at 2023 levels; Republicans say that’s not enough; they are insisting that next year’s spending be less than current levels.

Freshman Republican Rep. Mike Lawler, who represents the 17th Congressional District, which includes all or parts of Rockland, Westchester, Putnam, and Dutchess counties, spoke with Capital Tonight about the debt ceiling debate.

“I have long said that I have three parameters in the debt ceiling that must be met: One, the president and Sen. Schumer must negotiate with Speaker McCarthy in good faith; two, we must enact long-term spending reforms and reduce overall spending; and three, we must not default,” Lawler stated.

According to Reuters, if the U.S. stops cutting checks that fund 25% of the economy, Americans who have retirement accounts would suffer as the stock market “swoons,” and within days, a lack of federal payments would hurt veterans, hike mortgage rates and add to inflation.

When asked if the fight was worth it, Lawler said that House Republicans are the only ones in Washington who have actually voted to lift the debt ceiling.

“Democrats voted against the ‘Limit, Save & Grow Act,’ so they voted against lifting the debt ceiling. The Senate, Sen. Schumer, cannot pass a bill – he has not introduced a bill to be passed in the Senate because he doesn’t have the votes necessary to do it,” Lawler said.

The “Limit, Save & Grow Act,” which is the House Republicans’ debt ceiling proposal, would allow federal discretionary spending to increase just 1% per year, which is below the rate of inflation.  

Discretionary spending includes weapons programs, servicemember pay, grants for schools that serve low-income students, rental assistance to house millions of poor and disabled, and money to fund research on cancer and other life-threatening diseases.  

Meanwhile, all 213 Democrats in the House on Wednesday agreed to pass a “discharge petition” which is a bill raising the debt limit with no strings attached. The bill would need five Republican votes to pass.

When asked what would have to happen for him to consider signing the discharge petition, Lawler said “a clean debt ceiling bill with no spending cuts cannot pass the U.S. Senate.”

“What Democrats need to come to the realization about is that you need to compromise,” he continued.

Unspent COVID money may be on the negotiating the table. 

“We are coming to the deadline, but I think we are making progress,” Lawler said.