Sweeney: ‘No One is Going to Hide’ From Veto Override Vote
The New Jersey Senate will make another attempt to override a veto on a bill designed to prevent mentally ill people from getting guns. This time, however, the Senate president is taking steps to make sure every member of the upper house shows up to cast a vote.
On Sept. 24, NJ Senate Democrats failed to get the necessary 27 votes to override Gov. Chris Christie’s veto of a bill (S-2360) that would allow police to tell a judge about any suspicious reports regarding a person trying to expunge his or her mental health records in order to buy a gun. State Sen. President Steve Sweeney (D-Thorofare) scheduled another override attempt, and said every member of the upper house is required to show up, or he will send the State Police to get anyone who isn't in attendance.
“On the 22nd of October we’re going to move to do an override again,” Sweeney said. “Everyone is going to vote on this. No one is going to hide.”
There is a procedural move that allows Sweeney to put the house “under call” which means every senator has to be in attendance and cast a vote. He promised he would not hesitate to use that power if necessary.
“I’ll put the house under call. We’ll go get ‘em. We’ll go get ‘em. You’re not going to run. You’re not going to hide on this one. They (Republicans) don’t have any cover on this one. You stand up. You speak up. You show people where you stand,” Sweeney said.
The bill did pass unanimously in the Senate and the Assembly in June. If all 24 Democrats in the Senate voted for the override, three Republicans votes would still be needed. If that happens the Assembly would need to take action as well. Fifty-four votes are needed which means six Republican Assembly members would have to support the override along with all 48 Democrats. The September override attempt fell two votes short before Sweeney pulled it from the voting list which gave him the opportunity to try and override it again without starting from legislative scratch.
Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean issued the following statement Monday in response to Sweeney’s announcement:
"The only thing Steve Sweeney is interested in accomplishing today is grabbing a few politically expedient headlines. He's been setting the stage for a political dog and pony show for the last few weeks, while Senate Republicans have been working on finding a real compromise solution," Kean said. "I'm interested in getting people with mental health issues the help they need and preventing them from doing harm to others, not playing partisan games."
In his veto message, Christie said he was not interested in taking a patchwork approach to dealing with mental health issues and gun violence. On Oct. 4 on ABC’s “Meet the Press” the governor criticized Democrats after their failed override attempt.
“I'm very concerned about the mental health side of this and I put forward a proposal to the Legislature last year and then again just about seven or eight weeks ago in response to a bill they sent saying: Let's do some tough things on mental health. Let's make involuntary commitment of people who speak violently easier for doctors,” the governor said.
Democrats announced plans for the scheduled override attempt on Monday in Princeton, which happens to be in the legislative district of Sen. Christopher “Kip” Bateman (R-Somerville) who co-sponsored the original bill. Lawmakers specifically called out Bateman and urged him to support the override. The senator did not return calls or emails seeking comment.
“The only person against this law is the governor of the state of New Jersey and that’s because he’s running for president,” Sweeney said.