Tag Archive: NJ-12

A Powerful Voice

BY DECIMINYAN When Congressman Rush Holt decided not to run for re-election in 2014, many progressives were disappointed. After all, a clear, progressive voice was disappearing from the House of Represenatives. But that disappointment was short-lived. Holt’s successor, Bonnie Watson…
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65

There are 65 Democratic women in the 114th Congress. More women than in any caucus ever in congressional history (and with the incoming Congress 80% white male and 92% Christian, still not diverse enough). This is their official portrait.

Can you find New Jersey’s only woman in the congressional delegation?

114th Congress Democratic Women

Can’t find NJ-12’s new congresswoman? Some help for you, on the jump page.

Race and Redistricting: A look at the new Congressional map

Last Friday, when he chose the Republican map, Redistricting Commission tiebreaker John Farmer suggested that the new map “honors more completely New Jersey’s diversity.” To say this about a map which targets the only Jewish member of the delegation for elimination (though Congressman Rothman obviously isn’t cooperating with Dean Farmer’s plan) and provides no new meaningful opportunities for minorities elsewhere takes, well, chutzpah. Follow me below the fold as I explain why this map denigrates, rather than honors, New Jersey’s diversity.

Dueling Visions for Science

I wrote this for Science; and it was published a few days ago. I thought my friends in the Blue Jersey community might be interested in this issue too. – Rush Holt

A clash is under way in Washington, DC, between two starkly different visions for the U.S. government’s role in research and development (R&D). The outcome of this debate will shape the nation’s scientific landscape for years to come.

The first vision is a grim and pessimistic "No, we can’t" view. Its proponents insist that the federal government can play no substantive role in advancing science or technology. The argument is that the government has been ineffective, that "investment" is a code word for wasteful spending, and that the only way forward is for the government to lower its sights, stop making new investments, and scale back spending. This view is encapsulated in the recently enacted Budget Control Act of 2011, which demands $2.4 trillion in federal spending cuts. Considering that, as a share of the U.S. economy, the government’s support for R&D has fallen by nearly two-thirds since the 1960s, I have little doubt that R&D will bear more than its share of these latest cuts.

 

A hard spending cap forces false choices: Should the United States invest in badly needed new science instrumentation or in educating inner-city kids? The truth is that the nation must invest in many things. Fortunately, there exists another, far more hopeful vision for the federal government, one that rejects the notion that government budgeting must begin with a hard cap. The recent American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 demonstrates how federal investment in R&D can drive the economy forward. I was part of the negotiations that put $22 billion of new R&D funding into science agencies, like the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. How many jobs did these funds create, and how many more will they create in the future? We won’t have the final answer for years. How many lab technicians have been hired, and how many electricians wired the labs? The accounting is difficult now, and until the scientific and technological accomplishments have reverberated through the economy, the full effect cannot be known. It appears that the short-term benefits are similar to those of shovel-ready construction projects, and for the long term, past experience is very promising. The return on spending by the NSF over the decades appears to be very large. And the most comprehensive study of the economics of the Apollo space program found that its $25 billion in government investments returned $181 billion to the economy.

Science is usually a smart investment for a nation’s future, and is more important today than ever before. America’s inflation-adjusted borrowing costs have fallen to historic lows. When the private sector is not making enough investments and consumers are not spending, Congress should make the investments that will pay large dividends: public and private scientific research, education in science and engineering, and infrastructure projects to support scientific growth. An investment-focused vision for America could begin by fulfilling the commitments made in the America COMPETES Act, enacted in 2007 and reauthorized in 2010. That law authorized a doubling of the budgets at key science agencies and created the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) to fund transformative research on energy technologies. If Congress were to fulfill that law’s vision for scientific investment, it would both create good-paying jobs today and lay the groundwork for a far stronger economy tomorrow.

This will be a daunting task. With the Budget Control Act, Congress appears to have said, in effect, that federally sponsored science has no role to play in advancing the economy, that unemployment is a problem that only time will cure, and that the nation’s best days are behind us. How contrary to American tradition that would be! It must not prevail.

Dueling Visions for Science

I wrote this for Science and it was published a few days ago. I thought my friends in the Blue Jersey community might be interested in this issue too. – Rush Holt

A clash is under way in Washington, DC, between two starkly different visions for the U.S. government’s role in research and development (R&D). The outcome of this debate will shape the nation’s scientific landscape for years to come.

The first vision is a grim and pessimistic “No, we can’t” view. Its proponents insist that the federal government can play no substantive role in advancing science or technology. The argument is that the government has been ineffective, that “investment” is a code word for wasteful spending, and that the only way forward is for the government to lower its sights, stop making new investments, and scale back spending. This view is encapsulated in the recently enacted Budget Control Act of 2011, which demands $2.4 trillion in federal spending cuts. Considering that, as a share of the U.S. economy, the government’s support for R&D has fallen by nearly two-thirds since the 1960s, I have little doubt that R&D will bear more than its share of these latest cuts.

Rush Holt to Homeland Security: Suspend deportations in same-sex marriages until DOMA is settled

Our immigration policies must work to unite families, not rip them apart.

      – Rep. Rush Holt, in letter to Secretary of Homeland Security

Rush Holt has appealed to Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano not to apply the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) to an immigration case involving constituents of his congressional district. DOMA, which Holt believes is unconstitutional, is jeopardizing the future of Holt’s NJ-12 constituent Josh Vandiver and his husband Henry Velandia. They were married last year in Connecticut, a  marriage equality state. Velandia is from Venezuela and came to the states on a visitor visa 9 years ago. Because of DOMA, he’s not eligible for the same kind of spouse visa that would be available to him in a marriage of opposite gender partners. He will be deported unless either DOMA is ruled unconstitutional or a bill challenging DOMA’s constitutional basis passes in Congress. Vandiver is an American citizen, Holt argues, and should receive the full rights granted to all citizens. That would include having his marriage recognized, rather than be singled out based on his sexual orientation. Holt says that’s exactly what’s happening as Vandiver is not being allowed to sponsor his husband for a visa.

The Obama administration’s position on DOMA has shifted; it will no longer defend DOMA. Holt notes the specifics of Attorney General Eric Holder’s new position on the much-hated law, and says he wants it repealed. Until that happens, Holt is asking Homeland Security to suspend deportation of all spouses of US citizens in same-sex marriages. Full text of his letter to Secretary Napolitano is after the jump.

Good on Holt.  

Rush Holt: What’s his nuclear worry?

Japan is a nation alert to disaster-preparedness; drills, practices, evacuation plans, even a national day of preparedness. But human error is a factor – i.e. back-up diesel generators on low ground –  and continues to be a factor in Japan’s emerging nuclear crisis. “They were supposed to be rare,” but they’re now coming in about every decade of so, says Rush Holt. On Rachel Maddow last night, Holt discusses the perilous condition of our energy resources, and the need for a comprehensive plan.

But what else is Rush Holt worried about here? Maybe not what you think.

Holt, physicist and congressman, comes in at the 2:45 mark:

My Congressman Can Beat Up Your Supercomputer

This got posted late-night, so I’m retitling with an Update and pulling it up top again for anybody who missed it.

Update: We’re getting a little detail now on Holt v. Watson. Holt reminds us math & science education is key, and research & development is important: “While it was fun to out-do Watson for one night in trivia; it is vital that, as a nation, we out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world for generations to come.” Holt lead in categories Presidential Rhyme Time and Also a Laundry Detergent proving his knowledge both historical and practical. And he knew what Hippophobia is the fear of. It’s not hippos. – – Rosi

To cries of Go humanity! Rush Holt beat the Watson supercomputer that stumped all-time Jeopardy winner Ken Jennings tonight. So maybe Scott Sipprelle, Michael Halfacre & Bill Spadea and any of the other Republicans who tried to take Holt’s congressional seat can feel better about their lives now. They never had a chance.
My Congressman IS a Rocket Scientist

This was an exhibition game hosted by IBM. Watson took on 5 congressmen in the Watson vs. Members tournament: Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Jared Polis (D-CO), Nan Hayworth (R-NY), Jim Himes (D-CT) and Holt.

more below

Rush Holt Letter to Speaker John Boehner: “dangerous and far reaching bills”

To women in New Jersey, the national assault on a woman’s right to choose feels like a home-grown offensive. Our Governor has made a mission of defunding family planning and women’s health for lower-income women, some of whom are left without options. He’s staked his political future with the anti-choice few, speaking at a state house rally for NJ Right to Life. The actors and video pranksters of Live Action, who are well-aware of what established practice at Planned Parenthood is, found an employee breaking that practice (since fired) and have exploited that video to build sympathy for their cause. That was in Perth Amboy. Live Action advisor and best-known video prankster James O’Keefe is a Rutgers grad. And finally, NJ-4’s Rep. Chris Smith has introduced one of the most regressive bills of my lifetime, House Resolution 3, fast-tracked by Speaker John Boehner, criticized by many for its provision of “redefining rape”. In a letter delivered a few hours ago, Rush Holt, a NJ Planned Parenthood board member, speaks his mind about HR3 and its back-tracking companion, far-right Indiana congressman Mike Pence’s HR217, the Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act. He also spoke on the House floor today.

Video of Holt protesting HR217 and the last part of his letter to Speaker Boehner are after the jump.

The Honorable John Boehner

Office of the Speaker

The Honorable Eric Cantor

Office of the the Majority Leader

Dear Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader Cantor:

I write respectfully to inform you of my strong opposition to H.R. 3, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act and H.R. 217, the Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act.  Both of these bills are thinly veiled attempts to prohibit American women from being able to access comprehensive health care. I urge you to not to bring these dangerous and far reaching bills to the floor of the House of Representatives for a vote.

Regardless of our personal opinion about abortion, the Supreme Court has determined that abortion is a legally protected medical procedure.  The choice of whether or not to have an abortion is up to a woman, her faith, and her family, not the federal government.

The deceptively named No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act claims that it would enact a government-wide prohibition on federal subsidies for abortion and health insurance plans that cover it. In truth it is an unprecedented attempt to limit health insurance coverage for American women, raise taxes on small businesses, infringe on the legally protected rights of American Servicewomen, and make this legal medical procedure inaccessible to women.

Most offensively, H.R. 3 as introduced, creates a nebulous definition of rape that would require a woman to carry a fetus to term if it is deemed that she was not “forcibly raped.”  Forcible is a term with no legal definition.  This would return our country to the long outdated standard of rape law, where a rape verdict depended not on whether the victim consented, but on whether outsiders thought she resisted as hard as humanly possible. This law was changed because it was rarely found that the victim had “fought hard enough” to resist her rapist.  We should not turn back the clock and revert to a standard that further victimizes rape victims.

Letter continues after the jump.