Rep. Faso reflects as term nears end
Says he expected to win, wasn’t surprised by loss
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.