Rep. Faso re­flects as term nears end

Says he ex­pected to win, wasn’t sur­prised by loss

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By Ariél Zangla [email protected]­manon­line.com

With less than a month left in of­fice, U.S. Rep. John Faso said Thurs­day that he was able to get a lot done dur­ing his term, but also that there are some out­stand­ing is­sues he hopes the next Congress will ad­dress.

Dur­ing a con­fer­ence call with mem­bers of the press Thurs­day morn­ing, Faso, R-Kin­der­hook, spoke about his time in of­fice and an­swered ques­tions on a range of top­ics, in­clud­ing the im­pact of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump on the midterm elec­tions, his thoughts about the weekly “Faso Fri­day” protests out­side his Kingston of­fice, and what ad­vice he would give to An­to­nio Del­gado, the

Rhinebeck Demo­crat who de­feated him on Elec­tion Day.

Faso has rep­re­sented New York’s 19th Con­gres­sional District, which cov­ers much of the Mid-Hud­son Val­ley, since Jan­uary 2017. His loss on Nov. 6 was part of a na­tion­wide Demo­cratic wave that cost Repub­li­cans 40 seats and their ma­jor­ity in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

“I felt I was go­ing to win the elec­tion right up un­til 10 o’clock on Elec­tion Night,” Faso said in re­sponse to one ques­tion. He said he told his wife over the sum­mer that if Repub­li­cans lost 20 seats

in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives he would still win, but if they lost 40, he would lose.

“These are fac­tors that are largely beyond your con­trol,” Faso said. “In that con­text, I guess I wasn’t sur­prised be­cause we wound up los­ing 40 seats.”

Faso said, as he has be­fore, that the wide­spread losses by Repub­li­cans were largely due to op­po­si­tion to Trump. He noted, though, that when­ever a new ad­min­is­tra­tion comes in, the pres­i­dent’s party gen­er­ally “takes it on the chin” in the next midterm elec­tions. Still, he said, last month’s re­sults should be a wake-up call for the pres­i­dent and Repub­li­cans in Congress.

Repub­li­cans are largely sup­port­ive of the pres­i­dent’s choices and poli­cies, but the

ones Faso has spo­ken to, he said, over­whelm­ingly wish the coun­try had a less chaotic White House and that the pres­i­dent had a less an­tag­o­nis­tic way of deal­ing with the press and his po­lit­i­cal ad­ver­saries.

The con­gress­man also said Trump’s “blus­ter” on trade poli­cies is “un­help­ful” to­ward reach­ing deals. He said trade wars are never easy to win and they have un­fore­seen con­se­quences that af­fect busi­nesses.

Faso said he thought most of the peo­ple who par­tic­i­pated in the “Faso Fri­day” protests were op­posed to Trump and his ad­min­is­tra­tion and that he be­came iden­ti­fied with them be­cause he is a Repub­li­can.

The con­gress­man said he did meet with protesters when they would seek ap­point­ments with him. He also said the peo­ple at the protests were, by and large, vo­cif­er­ous but re­spect­ful.

As for Del­gado, Faso said he has not spo­ken to the Demo­crat since he con­grat­u­lated him on Elec­tion Night. He said their staffs have been in con­tact re­gard­ing the tran­si­tion.

“I think the only ad­vice I would give to any­one tak­ing of­fice is just to be true to your prin­ci­ples and do what you think is right,” Faso said, adding that that was how he oper­ated.

Of his ac­com­plish­ments, Faso pointed to the in­clu­sion of his STOP Act pro­posal in larger fed­eral leg­is­la­tion that was adopted to ad­dress the opi­oid epi­demic. He said his pro­vi­sion aims to stop the in­flux of syn­thetic opi­oids through the U.S. Postal Ser­vice, in­clud­ing the nar­cotic pain med­i­ca­tion fen­tanyl com­ing from China.

Still to be ad­dressed, Faso said, is his pro­posal to en­act leg­is­la­tion that would pre-empt New York’s Scaf­fold Law on any fed­er­ally funded pro­jects. He said New York is an ab­so­lute li­a­bil­ity state, which in­creases the cost for all con­struc­tion by at least 5 per­cent. He said the Scaf­fold Law does not pro­tect con­struc­tion work­ers and only ben­e­fits a small group of trial lawyers who han­dle re­lated cases.

The con­gress­man also said he tried to use fed­eral leg­is­la­tion to end New York’s Med­i­caid man­date on county tax­pay­ers, a sys­tem that he said is clearly out of line with those of other states. He said tax­pay­ers in the 19th District pay $220 mil­lion in Med­i­caid costs each year, which tax­pay­ers in other states do not.

Faso said he is the first con­gress­man from New York to raise these is­sues, which he said comes partly from his ex­pe­ri­ence in state gov­ern­ment and un­der­stand­ing the dy­namic be­tween the state and fed­eral gov­ern­ments.

Faso served in the New York As­sem­bly from 1987 to 2002 and was its mi­nor­ity leader from 1998 to 2002. He mounted un­suc­cess­ful cam­paigns for state comptroller in 2002 and gov­er­nor in 2006. His term as a con­gress­man ends Jan. 3, 2019.

AP FILE

John Faso

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