The Rodney Report: Frelinghuysen's Disruptive 'No'

The Rodney Report is NJ 11th for Change's response to Representative Frelinghuysen’s Weekly E-newsletter.

The 3/24/17 edition

  • Frelinghuysen Opposes Trumpcare
  • Still Denouncing Obamacare
  • Piecemeal 'Reform'?
  • On the Line with Rodney: Tele-Town Hall

In a radical departure from his lock-step support of the GOP agenda, Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen stunned national political observers Friday with his last-minute opposition to Trumpcare. Due to his powerful position as Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, the move was widely reported as the decisive blow against President Trump and Speaker Ryan’s attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

“In the final analysis, it would place significant new costs and new barriers to care on my constituents in New Jersey,’’ Frelinghuysen announced on Friday and reiterated in his weekly E-Newsletter.

For the past seven years, Frelinghuysen has voted to repeal, limit or gut the ACA at every opportunity, including his “yea” vote in 2013 to shut down the government if the ACA implementation was not delayed. Speaker Ryan spared Mr. Frelinghuysen and his GOP colleagues from casting a vote against party by pulling the bill less than an hour before the rescheduled vote.

Beltway journalists from the Washington Post to MSNBC attribute Frelinghuysen’s defection in part to pressure at home from grassroots groups like NJ 11th For Change — and we could not be more proud of our members, whose thousands of calls, letters, tweets and visits helped turn the tide.


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To NJ-11th for Change, Frelinghuysen’s AHCA Shift Means Voters' Voices Are Heard

NJ 11th for Change welcomed Rep. Frelinghuysen's Friday-morning statement that he is now opposed to the AHCA. Over the last few months, our group has organized a sustained effort with thousands of members calling, visiting, mailing, faxing, and showing up – all urging the congressman to vote against taking health care away from more than 30,000 fellow constituents. Mr. Frelinghuysen’s statement shows that these tireless voices of our grassroots organization were heard loud and clear, together with countless citizens across the district.

What started in November as a few dozen folks on a Facebook page became a few thousand members by early January, when NJ 11th For Change started regular visits to Rep. Frelinghuysen’s District Office. Three people showed up at the first #FridaywithFrelinghuysen. The following week, it was 35. And then it was more than 150. By February, the numbers were reaching 350, then more than 450 constituents. Every subsequent Friday, our members continue to visit Rep. Frelinghuysen’s offices, voicing their concerns about affordable care, Russian interference, environmental protections, and many other urgent federal issues.

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Transcript of Rep. Frelinghuysen's Telephone Town Hall this week

Rep. Frelinghuysen held a telephone "town hall" this week. Here are some highlights:

  • On voting against the measure to release Trump's returns: 
    "I feel very comfortable by saying to you, and anyone else that’s listening, that I think the president ought to release his tax returns as every president has done before him, but on the floor of the House, I support the ruling of the Chair, regardless of what the issue is, because often the ruling of the chair issue is a political device and, and quite honestly, I need to support the majority in terms of what the chair’s ruling is."

  • On healthcare:  "I'm not sold on the current version of the bill being debated that went through three committees, with one more to come this week. ... I think we're headed in the right direction."

  • On the border wall: "I'm not sure the wall's the answer. But we're going to make sure he has a plan before he proceeds."

  • On proposed cuts to the NIH: "I think Mulvaney, quite honestly, and he's not one of my favorite people, I never worked with him when he was in Congress, he has no idea of the facts. ... I've not run into any instances of misexpenditures. ... Obviously, the White House has pushed back, but I think quite honestly, some of their stuff is based, quite honestly, on anecdote and misinformation."

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The Rodney Report: Frelinghuysen's First Peek at the Budget

The Rodney Report is NJ 11th for Change's response to Representative Frelinghuysen’s Weekly E-newsletter

 The 3/17/17 edition:

  • Frelinghuysen’s Budget Assessment
  • 'Skinny Budget' Impact on NJ 11
  • Marking Women's History Month: The Irony
  • Tele Town Hall 3/20: Be there!


Rep. Frelinghuysen heralded the submission of President Trump’s “skinny budget” with a vague injunction that we should trust him, “I think everyone should rest assured that the House Appropriations Committee will take all of the Administration’s proposals and give them complete and fair consideration,” Rep. Frelinghuysen, the head of the Appropriations Committee, stated in his weekly E-Newsletter.

NJ 11th For Change advises vigilance instead of rest.

The proposed budget eliminates entire federal agencies, like the National Endowment of the Arts, and makes massive cuts to others, like the EPA, while pumping $54 billion into military spending. It would drastically reduce funds for the NYPD, including money used for counter-terrorism efforts, the Department of Education, the Department of Labor and the Department of Health & Human Services. It would entirely eliminate the Interagency Council on Homelessness, the Economic Development Administration and the Minority Business Development Agency.

Other agencies slated for the chopping block are the National Broadcasting Corporation and NASA’s Office of Education, which supports STEM education programs all over the country. Ironically, in the newsletter, Mr. Frelinghuysen declared his support for both STEM education in NJ, and indirectly, his pride in NASA, enthusiastically saying, “As part of my ongoing efforts to promote science, technology, engineering and math education (STEM) among New Jersey’s students, I had the honor of escorting a NASA astronaut to two local schools this week.”

Here are just a few examples of the devastating effects proposed cuts could have in NJ 11 and statewide:

  • With over 100 Superfund sites, New Jersey holds the disturbing record of most Superfund sites in any state. In the 11th district we have 13 active clean up sites, including locations in Sussex, Morris, Essex, and Passaic Counties. There is the the Radiation Technology, Inc. Site in Rockaway; the Pepe Fields Superfund site in Boonton; and the Unimatic Superfund Site in Fairfield; a residential area of Essex County where groundwater is currently contaminated less than half a mile from public drinking water wells. President Trump’s proposed 31 percent cut to the EPA's already lean budget could cripple its ability to complete the cleanup process. Even Governor Christie’s 2018 Budget includes $190 million in federal funds for environmental cleanup and protection.



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Tips on Writing a Letter to the Editor

Calls and letters to your political reps are essential in any campaign to effect change. But Letters to the Editor can be a powerful way to reach fellow constituents, keep an issue in the public eye (and on the radar of elected officials) and influence the outcome of elections and government policy. Here are some tips from Liz Haigney Lynch on the best way to deliver your message — and get your letter published.

A Few Basics:

• Adhere to any guidelines that the publication specifies, such as maximum length.

• Mention elected officials by name, but avoid name-calling and personal attacks.

• A good rule of thumb: Critique positions, not people.

• Stay concise. 200 to 300 words is a good target.


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Bringing our Voices to DC and Morristown: Two Great Rallies

For months, we've been trying to get Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen to hold a face-to-face town hall meeting with his constituents. He has consistently refused to hold a public meeting in the district, even when we provided the venues.

It's time to bring the voices of NJ-11 constituents to Washington DC.

On Wednesday, April 5th, join New Jersey voters from across the state for a trip to DC to visit our elected officials while Congress is in session. We will visit with members of New Jersey's congressional delegation, including Representatives and Senators from both the Democratic and Republican parties, to share our support for progressive positions on healthcare, the environment, immigrants' rights, and constitutional rights, and to rally on the Capitol steps.

 Sponsored by NJ 11th For Change and BluewaveNJ, buses will depart from Montclair and Morristown at 7 AM, with additional locations to be added based on demand. Buses will return at approximately 9 PM.

We hope you'll join us. For more information and to reserve your seat, click here.

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How to Get Ready for Monday's Tele-Town Hall with Rep. Frelinghuysen

Call to Action!

After canceling due to the snowstorm, Rep. Frelinghuysen will be holding his next "telephone town hall" Monday.

Make no mistake -- a short telephone meeting where our congressman's staff vets the questions before they are asked and followup questions are cut off does not replace the need for a face-to-face public forum. But we can be ready to press him for answers. Some callers have been more successful than others in respectfully resisting Rep. Frelinghuysen's attempts at brush-offs and evasions. How did they do it? Below are tips on how to prepare relevant, well-informed questions and follow up effectively. We've also included a rundown of what our representative has been up to so you'll be equipped to ask timely questions. We hope you'll join us on the call Tuesday night to insist that our elected representative answer the questions of his constituents.

1. Sign up for the call here.  

2. Prepare your questions in advance. Post them our Facebook page to share with others and for feedback. We'll be posting live updates on the call on Twitter @nj11forchange. Engage with us and share your thoughts and reactions to the call as it happens! Only 10-15 constituents are likely to have a chance to ask their questions, so let's work together to make sure that the questions that are asked are as detailed and specific as possible.

3. Our Congressman is the chair of the House Appropriations committee. This makes him one of the most powerful and important members of Congress, as he is in charge of approving all budgetary matters. Ask questions related to his position as appropriations chair when possible. For example, will he or won't he defund the Coast Guard? Will he or won't he cut the EPA by 30%? A statement from Rodney Frelinghuysen about not funding the border wall or not cutting the EPA could stop that legislation in his tracks.


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A Call for Attorney General Jeff Sessions' Resignation

Although Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself yesterday from any investigations involving Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, we urge Rep. Frelinghuysen to call for his resignation. We can not allow America's top justice official to lie or withhold information under oath.

Earlier in the day, Rep. Frelinghuysen was among several lawmakers who called for Mr. Sessions to recuse himself  after it was revealed he withheld information about his meetings with Russian ambassadors while being questioned during Senate confirmation hearings.

While we appreciate that Rep. Frelinghuysen noted Mr. Sessions' contradictions under oath, actions speak louder than words. We ask Mr. Frelinghuysen to put partisanship aside and demand an independent investigation into Russia's involvement by co-sponsoring HR 356, which would establish a National Commission on Foreign Interference in the 2016 election. 

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Rodney Frelinghuysen Telephone “Town Hall" Transcription, 2/28/17

You can hear the audio version of the Tele Town Hall here.  The text below was transcribed from this recording. 

RF: I hope you’ll take this opportunity to share your thoughts, ideas, and opinions.  I welcome them.  If you’d like to ask me a question or make a comment, you can press the “0” key on your telephone at any time.

Before we begin, allow me to make a few introductory remarks while people get on the line.  I conduct these live telephone town halls because it enables me to get thousands of people together at one time.  And it gives everyone on the line… that is, gives everyone on the line, the opportunity to pass along a question or concern to me.  I do them regularly and will continue to hold them.  You can sign up from my website… sign up at my website, at  It’s available to everyone in the Congressional District.

In addition to my being <inaudible> every week, telephone town halls serve as a valuable tool for me to hear from over 700,000 people in the 54 towns of New Jersey’s 11th Congressional District.  I’m here to listen to you.  As I crisscross our Congressional District these days, I found people very engaged on almost every issue.  From health care, to high taxes, to improving job opportunities, immigration, border security, national defense, ISIS, the needs of our veterans and their families, every issue.  I look forward to hearing your comments on any issues you might want to discuss this evening.  Again, please don’t hesitate to hit the “0” at any time to ask me a question or make a comment.  And also please visit my website at  There you can sign up for me weekly e-newsletter and send <inaudible> emails, I’m listening.

Let’s take the first call from John in Morristown, thanks for getting on the line.  John in Morristown.

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NJ 11th For Change response to Rep. Frelinghuysen's Feb 17th statement to Daily Record

We welcome all kinds of opportunities to meet with our Congressman, and any forum is an improvement on his silence so far. But transparent and accountable representation isn't conducted over the telephone and via form letters. It requires regular two-way dialogue between representatives and their constituents.

The telephone town halls Rep. Frelinghuysen has held are not promoted in advance or open to all constituents. Constituents are pre-selected from some list, called at random, without prior notice, and they are not accessible to people with hearing loss.  

A tele-town hall without advance notice and open participation is merely a telephone press conference, not a true dialogue with constituents. In-person Town Halls are a staple of American democracy for which there is no substitute. The Congressman used to hold them up until 2013 - why did he stop?

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