Author Archive: Steve Rothman

Where Our Conversation – and Responsibility – Begins

Cross-posted from Rothman for New Jersey
I want to discuss with you a policy implemented by the new Democratic majority that will have an impact on everything this Congress does.  The policy is called “pay as you go”, or “pay-go” for short.  Simply put, pay-go states that any additional spending must either cut spending somewhere else or create new revenue.  Tax cuts are treated exactly the same way – a bill that cuts revenues by slashing taxes must also identify what spending will be cut.

This policy is just common sense.  Pay-go was last enacted in 1991 – back before Republicans gained control of Congress.  Throughout the rest of George H.W. Bush’s time in office and for every day of Bill Clinton’s Presidency, pay-go helped Congress enforce fiscal discipline on its members.  As a result, for the first time since World War II, the federal deficit began a sustained reduction.  By 1998, this policy had created a budget surplus and, for the first time in generations, Congress was able to begin paying down the national debt.

The State of the Union: What Didn’t Happen

George W. Bush said tonight that “success in this war is often measured by the things that did not happen.”  What he apparently doesn’t understand is that failure is also measured by that same yardstick.

President Bush said we would be welcomed as liberating heroes, and that didn’t happen.  President Bush said that we would find remnants of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction programs, and that didn’t happen.  President Bush said that Iraqis would set aside sectarian differences to create a civil society, and that didn’t happen.  President Bush said that if we just “toughed it out” that the insurgency would be defeated and peace would reign, and that didn’t happen, either.  Now the same person who has been wrong about every other thing that has happened in Iraq is telling us that everything will be fine if we just send a few more thousand American soldiers to serve as targets for sectarian militias.

The President’s “new strategy” is limited to a few new lines of rhetoric to describe his failed “stay the course” policy.  Oh, and sending 21,500 more American soldiers into harm’s way without any clear idea of what they are supposed to achieve or how they would achieve it.  One definition of insanity is to try the same thing over and over and hope for different results. 

Democrats will not sit by idly and allow this to happen.  I specifically requested a seat on the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee so I could be sure that someone would hold the Bush Administration responsible for conducting our military affairs in a way that brings honor to our servicemembers and greater security to the American people.  My fellow Democrats and I will use all of the parliamentary procedures at our displosal to ensure that President Bush does not waste our resources – including our most precious resource: the lives of our fighting men and women.

Op-Ed: Federal Funds Are Available to Help Secure Our Schools

U.S. Representative Steve Rothman, (D-Fair Lawn), has represented New Jersey’s 9th Congressional District since 1997 and sits on the House Appropriations Committee

In recent weeks, Americans have witnessed more school shootings-in Colorado, Wisconsin, Missouri and Pennsylvania. Every time these tragedies make headlines, there is a call for action. While there are many steps that we can take, there is already a federal law and funding available to help keep our local schools and our schoolchildren safe.

In 2000, along with my friend Congressman Henry Hyde (R-IL), I authored Secure Our Schools – a federal matching grant program for the purchase of school security equipment and for the security training of local school personnel. The bill passed the House and Senate and was then signed into law by President Bill Clinton on October 28, 2000.

Secure Our Schools is administered by the Office of Community Oriented Policing (COPS) in the Department of Justice. These grants help towns cover the cost of school safety measures, such as metal detectors, locks, lighting, and other crime prevention tools. They also fund security assessments, training for students, teachers, and administrators, coordination with local law enforcement, and other actions that significantly improve school safety. 

Since its first year of funding in 2002, $50 million dollars has been distributed to 48 states under the Secure Our Schools program. More specifically, 756 local law enforcement agencies and municipalities have partnered with over 1,300 schools nationwide to participate in this program to ensure the safety of their local schoolchildren.

In New Jersey, nearly 80 Secure Our School grants have been awarded to our law enforcement agencies and school districts. Those grants were worth over $6 million and helped secure 160 schools.