NJ Herald: Gottheimer breaks with Dems on regulations
Just hours after President Barack Obama met behind closed doors with Democrats on Capitol Hill to rally the party around saving his signature health care law, four House Democrats broke ranks and voted alongside the Republican majority to allow Congress to roll back regulations approved in the last 60 legislative days of the outgoing president’s term.
Among the four Democrats who sided with the GOP majority on Wednesday to approve the Midnight Rules Relief Act of 2017 — the vote was 238-184 — was freshman New Jersey 5th District Rep. Josh Gottheimer.
The Midnight Rules Relief Act amends the Congressional Review Act to allow Congress to consider a joint resolution to disapprove multiple regulations that federal agencies have submitted for congressional review within the last 60 legislative days of a session of Congress during the final year of a President’s term. Congress may disapprove a group of such regulations together — en bloc — instead of the current procedure of considering only one regulation at a time.
The remaining six Democratic House members from New Jersey voted against the bill, while all five of the state’s Republicans — including U.S. Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-11th Dist. — voted “Yes.” The bill now moves on to the Senate.
Gottheimer’s district includes 19 of Sussex County’s 24 municipalities, as well as portions of Bergen, Passaic and Warren counties. Frelinghuysen’s district includes the remaining five Sussex County municipalities: Byram, Hopatcong, Ogdensburg, Sparta and Stanhope.
For some, the vote may have come as bit of a shock, but throughout 2016 Gottheimer campaigned as fiscally conservative and socially moderate. In a statement from his office on Thursday, Gottheimer said his vote was in support of rolling back burdensome regulations on New Jersey businesses.
“For too long, unnecessary and out-of-date regulations have been able to pile up on the books, burdening businesses large and small, and passing hidden costs along to families,” he said.
A spokesperson from Gottheimer’s office told the New Jersey Herald on Wednesday that the congressman had an informal discussion with House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., at a function on Tuesday night where the two discussed, among other things, finding areas of common ground that would move the country in the right direction.
“I enjoyed my conversation with Speaker Ryan at his reception (Tuesday) night,” Gottheimer said. “We discussed working across the aisle to lower taxes and cut unnecessary regulation. We also talked about the need to make smart investments in our infrastructure. And we discussed how the Giants are going to whip the Packers this weekend.”
Gottheimer established himself as more of a Blue Dog Democrat — similar to his former boss, President Bill Clinton, for whom Gottheimer was a speechwriter — during his hotly contested campaign against seven-term incumbent Scott Garrett, a Republican from Wantage. The Bergen County Democrat told the Herald during the campaign that he admired Marge Roukema,the 11-term 5th District Republican who held off several primary challenges from Garrett before opting not to run again in 2002.
Roukema was a moderate on social issues — often putting her at odds within her own party on causes like gun control, abortion rights and campaign finance reform — while supporting fiscally conservative stances, such as the Republican Main Street Partnership and line item veto power.
“I also think it’s critical that Congress is always a check on regulation, regardless of who is in the White House,” Gottheimer said on Thursday. “That’s why I supported a bill to allow Congress to cut unnecessary regulations and help New Jersey’s businesses and families grow and prosper.”
In a statement from Frelinghuysen’s office, the 11-term congressman was more direct in his support for the bill.
“An avalanche of federal regulations has been deliberately unleashed at the direction of the President to his cabinet secretaries with no consultation with Congress and no regard for the costs to the taxpayers,” Frelinghuysen said.