By Adam Tucker
When asked what issues concern them the most, the members of NJ 11th for Change spoke clearly and loudly: for the sake of our democracy, the United States needs a fair and independent investigation on possible connections between the Russian government and the Trump Administration. It is clear to see why this issue topped the list.
It is a foregone conclusion that Vladimir Putin and the Russian government engaged in a long-term misinformation campaign to undermine confidence in the American electoral process and support a candidate they believed would better serve Russia’s interests. This much has been confirmed by every US intelligence agency. Make no mistake, this was an attack on our democracy and our nation by a hostile foreign government and we have every reason to think Russia will try again if the United States does not prevent it.
The Rodney Report is NJ 11th for Change's response to Representative Frelinghuysen’s Weekly E-newsletter.
The 3/31/17 edition
- Getting the Job Done?
- Travesty: House Intelligence Committee's Russia Investigations
Votes Against Science and EPA Protections
- Money Not Enough to Fight Hate
NJ 11th for Change is happy to hear Rep Frelinghuysen report in his E-News that Congress is “not paralyzed” despite the defeat of the AHCA and the “intrigue,” as he calls it, surrounding the House Intelligence Committee’s Russia investigation (more on that later).
Congressional infighting and distractions risk failure to meet an April 28 deadline to approve FY ’17 funding bills, which would result in a crippling government shutdown. Among bills being considered are President Trump’s demand for additional defense funding, which includes $1.5 billion in funds to start construction of a southern border wall, and a demand from the House Freedom Caucus to cut Planned Parenthood Medicaid reimbursement.
Getting The Job Done?
After 46 days in session, Rep Frelinghuysen and the 115th Congress have passed a handful of bills, including legislation that Frelinghuysen describes as “reversing a whole series of onerous bureaucratic regulations.’’
The majority undo Obama-era protections that were designed to help the very working families Republicans had promised to champion. Here is a sampling of Frelinghuysen’s “yea” votes:
H J Res 43: Reversal of Title X family planning funds. Frelinghuysen has presented himself as pro-choice.This legislation grants funding only to providers who do not perform abortions. Every dollar invested in family planning ultimately saves between $4 and $7 in public funds, and Title X funding has provided services that have prevented millions of unintended pregnancies, treated thousands of patients with STDs and cervical cancer. Nevertheless, Rodney voted to allow states to withhold federal money from these necessary health clinics serving primarily rural women and women of color.
It was not a memorable vote for him, though. Listeners to Rodney’s Tele-conference call on 2/28 (see transcript here) will remember that Gideon from Essex Fells asked Frelinghuysen how he can claim to be pro-choice and support this bill. He was unable to provide an answer, other than to hedge that he didn’t “have the bill right here.” This bill passed the Senate on Thursday without amendment by a tie-breaking vote cast by Vice President Mike Pence.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.