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Gillibrand, King, Zeldin to jointly celebrate veterans bill passage

October 16, 2015
In The News

Nearly two weeks after President Barack Obama signed a bill aimed at stemming the suicide rate among veterans with post-traumatic stress, Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and both of Long Island's Republican congressmen are due in Bay Shore Monday to hail its passage.

As political theater, this may be considered an effort by pols to identify with news of positive action. But the gathering at North Shore-LIJ's Unified Behavioral Health Center also marks an exception to the near-constant partisan posturing in Washington. The measure passed by unanimous votes in the House and Senate before Obama signed it on Feb. 12.

Gillibrand was first scheduled to appear last week at the center with Reps. Peter King (R-Seaford) and Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), members of the House majority, but snow forced a rescheduling. The law is generally intended to beef up Veterans Affairs efforts to offer mental health resources and hire professionals as troops return from Iraq and Afghanistan. The three are expected to urge further bipartisan efforts on veterans' behalf. Gillibrand has touted the Bay Shore facility as a model for such treatment and has talked up the bill in appearances upstate.

The law is named for Clay Hunt, a Marine war veteran from Texas who took his own life at age 28.

MINOR-PARTY PARALLELS: During last year's statewide races, some top Democrats tangled with the Working Families Party. Supporters of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo urged votes for him on their newly created Women's Equality Party rather than the WFP, which also endorsed him, but only after a floor fight. The Cuomo-created WEP threatened to siphon WFP votes -- or so partisans believed. It remains unclear where WEP is headed; its latest financial statements showed more than $35,000 owed to consultants.

On the Republican side, GOP Cuomo rival Rob Astorino's camp created the Stop Common Core line -- which he's now calling the Reform Party, adding term limits to its stated goals for the ballot line. Remember, Astorino has been at war with the Independence Party, which endorsed Cuomo for re-election and which the Westchester executive has slammed as a "corrupt organization." So maybe the Reform line can be described as a major-party-created weapon against the Independence Party -- and Women's Equality as a major-party-created weapon against Working Families.

Only in this state.