As the final speaker of the season for the Garden City Chamber of Commerce’s luncheon at the Garden City Hotel, Congresswoman Kathleen Rice came equipped with a combination of self-deprecating authenticity and hard truths about the atmosphere currently hanging over Capitol Hill. As if being the United States Representative for New York’s 4th congressional district wasn’t enough of a front row seat for Rice to view the partisan histrionics currently dominating the political landscape, her role as a ranking member of the subcommittee on Counterterrorism & Intelligence has given her quite a bit of insight. She’s been allowed an even larger peek behind the scenes as a member of the subcommittee on Oversight & Management Efficiency. And while the mindset in Washington DC is one of fierce partisanship, Rice continues to proudly wave a banner of being someone elected to be a public servant and not a politician. In other words, someone more concerned with getting things done for her constituents versus making self-serving moves, even if it meant being a primary participant in a movement that sought to deny Nancy Pelosi another term as Minority Leader of the United States House of Representatives.
“I am a moderate Democrat, but I want to make sure that you understand that I understand that businesses create jobs and not the government. What government can do is to create an environment for businesses to flourish, for people to become entrepreneurial. That’s what government can do—get out of the way of businesses and I hope you pay attention to the votes that I take and you’ll see that I’m very liberal when it comes to social issues, [but] my philosophy about business is much more moderate than a lot of my colleagues in Washington,” she said.
Domestic and international terrorism were major topics Rice touched on. In lauding law enforcement, particularly the New York City Police Department, the Garden City resident pointed out that some of the major threats come from cyber security breaches and an isolationist policy being taken by the current presidential administration that risks delegitimizing the threats posed by hackers. These are grave concerns, particularly given how recent elections in France, Germany and the Ukraine were victimized by data dumps, something Rice witnessed first-hand as part of recent trips she’s taken overseas.
“I think cyber security needs to be a top priority for our government right now. I’m troubled by the fact that it isn’t. Forget about politics, whether you’re Democrat, Republican or anything else, we all need to recognize that Russia launched a massive and unprecedented cyber attack on our country during last year’s election. It’s uncontroversial. All 17 law enforcement agencies in this country agree that this is what they did. They did it to us and are going to do it to our allies over in Europe,” she explained. “We were just over there on a Homeland Security trip. We were in France two days before the election and a major dump of information came from Russia. They don’t even bother hiding it there. There were major attempts to disrupt Germany’s elections. We were in Estonia and they dealt with the first state-sponsored cyber attack that shut their government down. This is not just tearing down America. It’s them not liking freedoms—sexual, religious, economic or any of it. And they are going to start dismantling NATO, raiding people and building up the USSR again. And they are going to do it with a campaign that is going to be met with complete resilience from us and all of our allies. I can tell you right now that our energy and banking systems are not prepared—not even close. Cyber security is something that all of us—our government and each of us as individuals—need to take a lot more seriously in the years ahead. We need to make this a bipartisan priority.”