New Showdown Over NJ Statehouse Vaccine Mandate Looms on Monday
It appears the next showdown over the vaccine-or-test mandate at New Jersey's State House will come Monday, the same day Republicans will be in court arguing the policy is unconstitutional.
A regular voting session is scheduled on Thursday, December 12, but NJ.com is reporting Democratic Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin has scheduled an in-person committee hearing for Monday.
The hearing is for the Assembly Appropriations Committee. One of the committee members is Republican Assemblyman Brian Bergen. He was the most vocal critic of the State House vaccine mandate last week, and led some of his GOP colleagues past State Police and into the Assembly Chamber.
It remains unclear how this will all play out on Monday.
Both Gov. Phil Murphy and State Police Superintendent Col. Patrick Callahan deflected questions about State House security during a virtual COVID briefing on Wednesday.
Instead, Murphy laid into Republicans, calling their behavior "unforgivable."
The State Police have come under criticism for not physically blocking GOP lawmakers from entering the Assembly chamber or removing them after they took their seats.
The troopers seen in photos and video of the confrontation with lawmakers have been reassigned, but a spokesman refuted claims it was for disciplinary reasons.
Earlier this week, the State Police reconfigured how people enter the State House. All guests are directed to enter through the parking garage, where they have to show proof of vaccination, even if they have a state ID.
Murphy mobilized the National Guard to help set-up a rapid testing station for those who can provide vaccination proof.
It's unclear if Bergen and his GOP colleagues are angling for another fight. "I honestly do not know. There's going to have to be a lot of discussion amongst the Republicans about how we're going to handle this situation ” Bergen said.