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Well at least they agree on something.

At the first Brooklyn debate in the race to fill the congressional seat vacated by tax-cheat Michael Grimm, both candidates said they would have voted against the Republican-controlled House of Representa­tive’s proposed federal budget.

“It’s a bad budget,” said Councilman Vincent “Vinnie” Gentile (D–Bay Ridge) during a March 31 debate in Bay Ridge. “I would resoundingly vote ‘no’ on that House budget.”

Republican candidate and Staten Island District Attorney Dan Donovan took a more measured stance, but ultimately said he would not have supported the plan either.

“There are good parts of that budget and there are bad parts of that budget,” Donovan said. “If it was an up-and-down vote, I would have voted ‘no.’ ”

The controversial 2016 House Budget, which sets aside $96 billion in new defense spending, seeks to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and cuts $1 billion from the agriculture budget, which funds both farm subsidies and food stamps.

Departing from hard-line Republicans, Donovan has come out in support of aspects of the Affordable Care Act, according to the New York Observer.

The House passed the proposal the day before by a margin of 228–199 with 17 Republicans dissenting and no Democrats crossing the aisle.

Donovan decried Congress’s partisan divide in the Tuesday debate.

“There’s so much partisanship in Washington right now,” he said. “I think all of you ought to be disgusted by that — because I am. No party has a monopoly on good ideas. This partisanship down in Washington has to stop — this partisanship here has to stop.”

But Donovan said last week that his party affiliation would put him in a unique position to broker deals for fellow New York City representatives — all of whom are Democrats.

“Being in the majority in the House at the same time the Republicans are in the majority in the Senate is a unique position for somebody in the district,” he told the Staten Island Advance on March 19.

Gentile told reporters Donovan’s remarks on Tuesday night were disingenuous.

“He sounds like he uses partisan politics to his advantage when he wants to and then pooh-poohs it when he thinks it helps him, and I’m not sure, based on the history of the Republicans sitting in this seat that he’s going to be able to broker any deal for any member of the New York Delegation.”

After the debate, Gentile predicted that, contrary to the moderate position Donovan is staking out in the campaign, he would cave to his party’s hardline leadership were he elected to the seat.

“When you’re out of the situation, it’s very easy to say you’re not going to vote for it,” Gentile said. “It’s another thing to say ‘no’ when your surrounded by Republican leaders. And frankly, if he’s not with that party, and if he doesn’t vote for that budget, then he’s in no-man’s land,” he said.

Reach reporter Max Jaeger at mjaeger@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–8303. Follow him on Twitter @JustTheMax.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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