NJ Congressional Reaction to Trump’s Speech Runs Along Party Lines
WASHINGTON — The reaction to President Trump's speech to a joint session of Congress fell along party lines.
"I thought it was a very strong speech," U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance, R-N.J. 7th District, told the Townsquare News Network following Tuesday night's hour long address. "It laid out broad parameters for the most important issues confronting the nation: tax reform, healthcare reform, immigration reform, an infrastructure program, our relationship with NATO and other nations abroad. It was a fine speech for someone who has just been inaugurated president ... and now it's the responsibility of those of us in Congress to enact legislation in many of these areas."
The Central Jersey Republican thought that those who are troubled by Trump's presidency might have found some comfort in the speech.
"I hope that we can work together here in Congress in a bipartisan capacity. The president reached out to both sides of the aisle. I hope Democratic colleagues here will take him up on his offer. They represent districts across America and we are representative of the people of this country. So in effect he was reaching out to all the people in this country," Lance said.
Lance was especially pleased with Trump's selection of Megan Crowley as a special guest at the speech. The 20-year-old from Princeton was diagnosed with Pompe disease, a rare genetic disorder.
"I know John Crowley, Megan's father, and that's a wonderful story," Lance said. "I was proud as a New Jerseyan that the president highlighted Megan Crowley."
She wasn't expected to live more than a few years until her father, John Crowley, founded the pharmaceutical company Novazyme Pharmaceuticals that helped develop a drug that kept her alive. She is now a sophomore at Notre Dame.
In a statement, U.S. Rep. Tom MacArthur, R-N.J. 3rd District, said Trump's speech hit "some of the same goals I’ve been fighting for, and I’m hopeful that Congress and the White House can work together to find solutions to these critical issues."
He also said that while he is pleased with the increase in military spending, "I think a larger investment is needed to ensure proper training and readiness of our troops around the world, while also supporting critical facilities like Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst," which is located in MacArthur's district.
U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo, R-N.J. 2nd District, said, "In true Donald Trump style, he did not sugarcoat the immense challenges our nation faces. I welcome the president’s collaborative tone and clear specificity of policies he wants to address. While I will disagree with President Trump on some policy initiatives — such as school vouchers and rolling back environmental regulations — I stand willing to work with his administration on issues that will improve the lives of South Jersey residents."
One critic of Trump from the other side of the aisle was not pleased with what he heard.
"I was extremely disappointed. I thought the tenor was extremely negative about the country," U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J. 6th District, said. "He paints an image of the country that is collapsing around us with crime-infested streets. He was mean-spirited about immigrants ... he said all these things that are not true about the Affordable Care Act."
Pallone said that if Congress were to go along with Trump's policies, it would make America a lot worse.
"I am determined to resist these efforts to repeal the ACA, to deport undocumented immigrants, to not allow refugees to come in from Muslim countries."
The Democrat did say he found hope in the president's infrastructure plan.
"But he keeps talking about private ways of paying for it, and I do worry about what that means," Pallone said.
U.S. Rep. Donald Norcross, D-N.J. 1st District, was concerned about the lack of specifics in the infrastructure plan.
"Where are the jobs? I spent my life in the building trades, first as an electrician, then as a union leader. Many working men and women voted for President Trump because they believed him when he promised to rebuild our infrastructure, create jobs, and raise wages. But in his first speech to Congress, Trump only paid lip service to infrastructure investment without offering any details on creating new jobs," the South Jersey Democrat said in a statement.
U.S. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-N.J. 12th Distict, who dressed in "suffrage white" along with other female members of Congress, tweeted out a single comment about the ACA.
U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, who was among Democrats who often sat during standing ovations during the speech, said in a statement: "This speech was more of the same fear and factual distortion that President Trump has made central to his campaign, transition, and first weeks in office. The few budget details President Trump outlined tonight would undermine America’s national security, hurt our economy, and kill jobs if enacted. Cutting so deeply into the State Department budget is a dangerous idea that undermines American diplomacy and risks more global conflict."