U.S. Reps. Jerry Nadler and Carolyn Maloney got a new opportunity to distinguish themselves at a recent candidate forum leading up to the Aug. 23 primary.
One big difference: their willingness to criticize President Biden.
“I think the way we win is talking about the good things that President Biden has done and the good things that Democrats have done. I don’t wanna be critical of Democrats,” said Maloney.
Nadler on the other hand came out of the gate saying how he was disappointed with the Biden administration’s response to the January 6th hearings.
“I don’t think they’ve reacted with nearly the energy they should,” he said before highlighting other differences he has with the president.
Maloney and Nadler, who have been allies for most of their respective 30-year careers, are running against each other in a Democratic primary race for the 12th Congressional District after their districts were combined.
Inspīr Carnegie Hill, a luxury senior living residence located in Maloney’s current Upper East Side district, recently hosted a forum moderated by Chris Sosa, the political director of the Manhattan Young Democrats, that gave each candidate a window to address its residents separately. It additionally featured questions submitted by the senior residents.
The forum did not, however, include insurgent candidates Suraj Patel or Ashmi Sheth. An Inspīr spokesperson said Patel was invited to the event, but was not able to attend, and Sheth’s campaign did not respond to the invitation.
Sosa asked both candidates how they could restore trust in Congress as an institution after a recent Gallup Poll found that 93% of Americans say they don’t have a high degree of faith in The Hill.
“Keep working hard, keep having forms like this and getting the message out,” Maloney said.
Nadler was less sanguine in his answer about the work that Congress has been doing.
“People see that we’re not dealing with the issues — with the problems,” he said.
The root of the dysfunction, he went on, is both Senate Republicans and two Democrats, Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, who won’t vote to suspend or eliminate the filibuster.
At the end of June, President Joe Biden said that he would support an exception to the Senate filibuster in order to ensure that legislation related to privacy rights, including an abortion rights bill, could pass through the Senate to be enshrined into law, but he has not supported a complete end to the legislative rule.
Nadler suggested that he has tried to push Democratic leadership to embrace packing the Supreme Court, a prospect that both House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Biden have resisted. In April, Nadler introduced the house version of a bill that would add four additional Supreme Court justices.
“As time goes on, this Supreme court is going to stop everything [Biden] wants. He’s gonna realize that there’s no choice,” Nadler said.
Like Nadler, Maloney supports both legislation to expand the Supreme Court and abolishing the filibuster in order to get it passed. When Sosa asked her what the Biden administration could be doing better, Maloney said that Biden has asked for an exception for the filibuster, which she would prefer to abolish.
Then she went on to list off the abortion access-related executive orders that the president has enacted in the wake of the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe vs. Wade, before saying that she preferred to focus on the positive aspects of his presidency.
Another difference emerged as the two representatives talked about the administration’s response to the outbreak of Monkeypox.
As House Oversight Committee Chair, Maloney recently sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services urging them to build on the country’s supply of Monkeypox vaccine and asking what it can be doing to provide more.
Nadler, on the other hand, suggested that the solution to inadequate levels of Monkeypox vaccine is for the president to invoke the Defense Production Act, which would expand factory capacity, as both he and President Trump did in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Some of us are pushing him to do that. He hasn’t really responded yet, but he can do that. And I think he should,” Nadler said.