Tag Archive: Chris Smith

Goliath Slayers

It seems odd that in a blue state like New Jersey, our congressional delegation is evenly split – six Democrats and six Republicans. The GOP members are generally not moderate Republicans either, but rather folks that adhere to the extreme…
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Lessons not learned: Sen. Menendez and NJ Politicians Breaking Badly

It is too early to determine the fate of U. S. Senator Bob Menendez who CNN reported will be indicted on charges related to favors he provided to his largest campaign contributor, Dr. Salomon Melgen. Sen. Menendez has responded, “Let me be very clear – very clear. I have always conducted myself appropriately and in accordance with the law… I am not going anywhere.” Whether these known favors involve only bending the rules or actually breaking the rules is not yet established. Nonetheless, his actions appear far less ethical than what we should expect.

Unfortunately, this news about a New Jersey U. S. Senator is all too familiar as he would be the fourth in a generation to run afoul of the law. Similarly New Jersey congressmen have created their own problems. Hudson County, the political base of Sen. Menendez, has had its share of politicians breaking badly. Now our governor is under federal investigation with an uncertain future. Recent NJ history has provided plenty of warnings about the dangers of bending and breaking rules – warnings which all too frequently have not been heeded.  

House of Representatives sputtering onward

The new 114th congressional session kicked off in early January with a few sputters. Its Republican membership has increased but so far not its openness to moderate issues. Nonetheless, two New Jersey Democrats (Reps. Norcross and Sires) have voted in support of Republican bills. Republicans who believe in “limited, constitutional government” have formed The House Freedom Caucus, whose membership includes New Jersey’s most rabid conservative Scott Garrett. Rep. Garrett earlier voted against John Boehner as Speaker, which did not endear him to leadership. So far the house seems to be operating under the principle of “same old same old.”  

House action:

  • Keystone XL Pipeline Act passed 266-153. Democrats Norcross and Sires voted Yes as did all NJ Republicans. All other NJ D’s voted No.

  • Promoting Job Creation and Reducing Small Business Burdens (weakens Dodd Franks legislation) passed 271-154. Democrat Sires and All NJ R’s voted Yes, and all other NJ D’s voted No.
  • Natural Gas Pipeline Permitting Reform Act passed 253-169. Norcross (D) and all NJ R’s voted Yes. Other NJ D’s voted No.
  • Prohibit taxpayer abortions passed 242-179. All NJ R’s voted Yes; all D’s voted No.
  • Appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security (Limits the President’s authority to  to spare classes of deserving immigrants per his Executive Order.) passed 236-191. All NJ R’s voted Yes. All NJ D’s voted No.

    For committee assignments and power ratings, go below the fold.  

  • Another “hold your nose” vote to avert a government shutdown

    Update Sun. 8:30 am: The Omnibus 2015 federal spending bill passed the Senate Saturday night 56 to 40 averting a government shutdown. Both Senators Menendez and Booker joined progressives and others and voted against the bill. Sen. Booker said the bill would roll back regulations in the Dodd-Frank Act, compromise truck safety, and interfere with the rights of Washington, D.C. residents to change their marijuana laws. Sen. Menendez said, “The rollback of critical Wall Street reform provisions puts taxpayers on the hook to bail Wall Street out again. Moreover, this last-minute add-on – a poison pill written by large financial institutions – sets the table for more attacks on the protections I fought to put in place following the financial collapse.”

    Not so long ago the NJ legislature used to have an annual Christmas tree bill which was sprung upon the membership and laden with all sorts of holiday goodies inserted by individual legislators. This week in the House of Representatives with little more than two days to review the bill, leadership sprung their $1.1 trillion Christmas tree bill to fund the government next year and avert a federal shutdown.

    The bill narrowly passed 219 votes to 206. Many Republicans did not like the bill for the generic reason that it calls for “too much government spending,” and because the act does not explicitly block President Barack Obama from implementing his Executive Order on immigration. Republicans voted 162 in favor and 67 against.  Many Democrats did not like the bill because it weakens Dodd-Frank consumer legislation and because it increases substantially the amount donors can contribute to political parties. Democrats voted 57 in favor and 139 against.

    The House Speaker Republican John Boehner never had enough Republican votes to pass the bill, so he relied on support from Democrats. The White House vigorously lobbied Democrats for passage as did Steny Hoyer, Democratic Whip. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi spoke out and voted against it. Five of our NJ Democrats refused to “hold their nose” and vote for it and instead voted against it.