National Roundup 01-05: North Jersey Jews Divided on U.S.-Israel Relationship; Gov. Rick Scott Wants to Hire Counterterrorism Agents
The following is a round-up of national news from several major states across the country that will be featured on our site on a daily basis:
Gottheimer Breaks with Democrats on Regulations: Newly sworn Rep. Josh Gottheimer was one of four Democrats on Wednesday who voted for a bill to give Congress more power to invalidate regulations adopted by President Obama’s administration.
Gottheimer, D-Wyckoff, supported the Midnight Rules Relief Act, which expands the power Congress has to overturn regulations by allowing lawmakers to bundle together rules adopted in a president’s final year in office and overturn them at once. The bill passed 238-184, with Gottheimer one of just four Democrats supporting it, and the only one from New Jersey. Republicans supported the bill unanimously.
“For too long, unnecessary and out-of-date regulations have been able to pile up on the books, burdening businesses large and small, and passing hidden costs along to families,” Gottheimer said in a statement after the vote. “I also think it’s critical that Congress is always a check on regulation, regardless of who is in the White House. I will support efforts to cut unnecessary and out-of-date regulations and help New Jersey’s businesses and families grow and prosper.”
Gottheimer’s vote came on his second day in office succeeding Garrett, who built a reputation for opposing measures that had broad support from Republican colleagues. Representing a district that reliably voted Republican before November, Gottheimer had campaigned on a promise to take a more conservative approach than most Democrats. He has joined the “Blue Dog” caucus, for example, made up of some of the most conservative House Democrats. [North Jersey]
Christie is Unpopular But Optimistic for 2017: In the first public appearance of his final year in office, Governor Christie expressed pride in the likelihood that he will achieve something no governor in a generation has: fulfilling a full two terms.
“Mary Pat and I both look forward to our final year in office. It has been an incredible journey over the last seven years for us. When the clock struck 12 on Saturday night into Sunday morning and they had that ‘2017’ lit up at the bottom of where the ball drops in Times Square, she looked at me and she said, ‘Well, hell, we made it to 2017,’ ” Christie said, referring to his wife. “That seemed like, not miles, it seemed liked continents away when I walked into the State House for the first time as governor on Jan. 20 of 2010.”
Now Christie is in “the home stretch” of an administration poised to transfer power for the first time since one of his mentors, Republican Gov. Tom Kean, completed his second term in 1990. “It’s been a long time since New Jersey has experienced this,” Christie said. “There’ll be lots of people who write lots of different things about what this year will be like, but none of them write about it or talk about it with any sense of authority,” he added, “because none of us were here to experience what that’s like. So it may seem like an old experience, but it’s not; it’s a new one.” [APP]
North Jersey Jews Divided on U.S. Relationship with Israel: Many in America were upset when the Obama administration did not veto a United Nation resolution condemning Israeli settlements on the West Bank. In some quarters it was viewed as a betrayal of the U.S.’s strongest ally in the Middle East, despite President Barack Obama’s unprecedented military support for Israel.
Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., D-Paterson, represents a district that is home to the some of the largest Jewish and Palestinian communities in the nation. Pascrell called Obama’s move regarding U.N. resolution “perplexing,” and said it doesn’t “bring about direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians so that they might resolve their complicated differences and find a much-needed, lasting two-state solution.”
“There is a tremendous sense of disappointment that pervades the Jewish community,” said Rabbi Shmuel Goldin of Congregation Ahavath Torah in Englewood. Goldin said he was encouraged by statements made by the incoming Trump administration in support of Israel.
Others, however, viewed the U.N. action as merely an affirmation of long-standing policy. They find unsettling the prospect of a President Donald Trump aligning more closely with Israel’s right-leaning Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. They worry that Israel is drifting toward one state that would be neither democratic nor majority Jewish. “Trump’s full-throated endorsement of Israel’s right doesn’t speak for most of American Jews,” said Stephen R. Shalom, who teaches political science at William Paterson University in Wayne and is a member of Jewish Voice for Peace of Northern New Jersey. “There is a big split in the Jewish community and that split is going to get bigger as long as supporting Israel means supporting the most right-wing government in the country’s history.” [The Record]
Rauner to Skip Trump Inauguration: It looks like Illinois’ governor and the incoming president of the United States are not yet best buds—or even particularly close political allies.
Gov. Bruce Rauner’s office has confirmed that he will not attend Donald Trump’s inauguration as the nation’s 45th president on Jan. 20. Attendance is voluntary, but generally leaders of a major political party show up when one of their own is elected to the nation’s highest post, and both Rauner and Trump are Republicans.
Rauner’s office says he’s just too busy and too concentrated on Illinois to hop on a plane and make it all the way to D.C. Says a spokesman: “The governor is 100 percent focused on Illinois, including passing a truly balanced budget and changing our broken political system.” One Rauner insider says you shouldn’t read too much into the inaugural no-show. “There’s no bad blood,” that source says. [Crains]
Illinois Budget Woes Reignite with Spending Deal’s Imminent Lapse: Illinois is poised to re-enter a budgetary limbo on Sunday with the expiration of temporary spending authority for the state’s cash-strapped universities and fraying human services network.
Political feuding between Republican Governor Bruce Rauner and Democrats who control the state legislature has left the nation’s fifth-largest state without a full-year operating budget for 18 months.
The impasse eased last June when both sides agreed to a six-month funding fix, but that stopgap lapses on Sunday and budget talks have broken down.
A Rauner aide insisted no spending deal could be struck without reforms. “Members of the majority will face a clear choice when they return to Springfield: reach a bipartisan balanced budget with reforms or support Speaker Madigan’s status quo of crisis and higher taxes without any reforms to our broken system,” Rauner spokeswoman Catherine Kelly said. [Reuters]
Gov. Rick Scott Wants to Hire Counterterrorism Agents: Florida Gov. Rick Scott wants to spend nearly $6 million to boost the number of state agents dedicated to counterterrorism efforts.
Sparked by last year’s attack on the Pulse nightclub that left 49 dead, Scott will ask legislators to include enough money in the annual budget to hire agents who will be stationed in seven regions across the state.
“Terror is a threat to our state and nation, and we need specialists that are solely dedicated to identifying these terrorists and stopping them before they attack,” he said during a media event in Orlando Wednesday.
Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Rick Swearingen last fall first recommended hiring 46 additional agents. Legislators will consider the request during their annual session that starts in March. Scott said he is backing the request because the state needs “specialists that are solely dedicated to identifying these terrorists and stopping them.” The funding and new counterterrorism positions are “a critical investment in our state’s counterterrorism operations that will work to ensure that our law enforcement officers have the resources they need to curb this senseless violence,” he said. “We live in a very difficult time, but we are going to do everything that we can to keep everybody safe.” [NBC6]