Congressman Tim Bishop heads back to Washington in the minority

12/08/2010 6:30 PM |

While Congressman Tim Bishop now knows that he has retained his seat — due to the concession of his Republican opponent, Randy Altschuler — he also knows that when he goes back to Washington it will be as a member of the minority party. Republicans captured the House majority in November.

“I now have a different job,” Mr. Bishop said in a conference call with reporters Wednesday. Now, he said, “I must do the best I can to influence legislation written by my friends on the other side of the aisle,” rather than being part of a Democratic majority that wrote the legislation and guided the House’s agenda.

The biggest difference could be in earmarks, projects congressmen can get for their local district.

For instance, he said Riverhead Councilman John Dunleavy asked him in late October to try to deliver $400,000 more to add to the $4.3 million Mr. Bishop had already secured for the Calverton rail spur restoration project.

“I would say my ability to get that done is now non-existent,” he said.

Riverhead Town was hoping to extend the rail spur, which leads into the former Grumman naval weapons plant property, so that it could accommodate more businesses in the Enterprise Park at Calverton industrial park.

Mr. Bishop also pointed to a $7 million project requested by Southampton Town to raise the roadway along Dune Road. He said that’s similarly doomed because earmarks were the only way that project could be funded.

But, the congressman said, two things that won’t change are how hard he and his staff will work for their constituents and his resolve to form working partnerships will all local officials, regardless of political party.

He believes these strengths enabled him to “withstand what was essentially a Category 5 hurricane levied against Democrats” in the November election.

Mr. Bishop also still believes his support for two controversial measures ­— the so-called banking bailout, or TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program), and health care reform  — will prove to be justified.

“There’s no doubt we would have seen the collapse of the banking industry” without TARP, he said.

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