Kim and Van Drew Pop Up on Television

Kim With Nancy Pelosi; Van Drew on Fox News
Mar 13, 2019

It used to be the children-should-be-seen-and-not-heard rule applied to freshman members of Congress as well.

But the freshman class in the 116th Congress, already famous for its record 42 women and unprecedented diversity, is breaking the mold, with Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar making headlines on a nearly daily basis.

And it isn’t just the far left that is speaking up. The new congressmen representing Southern Ocean County, Democrats Andy Kim and Jeff Van Drew, haven’t been controversial, but they haven’t been quietly hiding away on a back bench neither.

The signature action of the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives so far was the passage of H.R. (House Resolution) 1 on Friday.

H.R. 1, also known as the “For the People Act,” is a sweeping bill that seeks to expand Americans’ access to the ballot box, reduce the influence of big money in politics, and strengthen ethics rules for public servants. The Washington Post opined that it is “perhaps the most comprehensive political-reform proposal ever considered by our elected representatives.”

The bill would expand voter registration and voting access by expanding early voting and creating same-day voter registration, makes Election Day a federal holiday, sets forth provisions related to election security, expands the ban on foreign nationals contributing to campaigns, provides for the federal matching of small contributions for qualified candidates, and requires candidates for president and vice president to submit 10 years of tax returns.

All of the Democrats in the House co-sponsored the bill, sponsored by Rep. John Sarbanes of Maryland. But Kim also offered an amendment to H.R. 1 that requires all paper federal election ballots to be made in America and be printed on paper manufactured in the U.S.

“H.R. 1 is a bill for the people, and it only makes sense that our ballots are made by the people,” said Kim, whose sprawling 3rd District includes half of Stafford Township and all of Barnegat Township. “Manufacturing ballots in America is a win-win. It not only helps support American jobs, but also ensures greater election security in an age when our elections are under attack from foreign sources.”

The amendment was adopted.

Before the House vote on H.R. 1 the Democrats held a press conference, with scores of representatives spilling over the steps of the Capitol. But just seven Dems, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi and sponsor Sarbanes, approached the microphone. Kim, who was positioned just to the right of the podium, was one of them.

“It is no exaggeration,” he said, “to say I simply would not be standing here as a member of Congress before you if it weren’t for the passion of the American people for healing their democracy. It is the reason I chose to run. I stepped up because my neighbors lost trust in a government that they no longer felt was working for them.

“They sent me here to cut through these divisions and reassert that the core unit of our democracy is the citizen, not the dollar sign; to remind Congress that the voice of the American people must not be drowned out by dark money held by the few instead of the many. And most importantly, they sent me here, and sent all of us here, to get something done about it.

“In a few minutes we will take a vote to seize that chance and make that change. And I ask that we do not step on the House floor as Republicans and Democrats but instead we recognize that we are but 435 individuals from all corners of our nation – of the people – entrusted by our neighbors – by the people – and we should be simultaneously humbled and inspired by this incredible opportunity to deliver on this promise to build a better nation – for the people.”

Kim’s plea for a bipartisan vote wasn’t successful. H.R. 1 passed by a 234-193 party line vote, with not a single Republican crossing the aisle to support the Democratic legislation.

Indeed, the legislation is expected to go nowhere in the Republican-controlled Senate where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he will not allow the bill to be voted on the floor.

Meanwhile, Rep. Jeff Van Drew polished his moderate Democrat credentials with an appearance on the Fox News show “America’s News Headquarters” early Sunday afternoon.

The outlines of President Donald Trump’s 2020 budget were the topic of discussion between host Eric Shawn and Van Drew. Fiscal Year 2020 will begin on Oct. 1 and Trump is asking for another $8.6 billion for more border wall. It also includes money for 2,800 more border agents and 100 more immigration judges.

Van Drew, as is his wont, played toward the middle of the field.

“The judges we need,” Van Drew said. “We’ve got to move these people. Immigration officers we need, and we do need some physical border, and we do need all the electronic and other mechanisms.”

But Van Drew stopped short of supporting Trump’s wall from the Pacific to the Gulf of Mexico, saying experts should “analyze where we are before we rush into doing something else.”

The freshman congressman also worried about Trump’s proposal for a 5 percent across the board spending decrease (save military spending), saying some programs important to many Americans could be hurt.

Van Drew did vote with his party on a bill blocking Trump’s emergency declaration which would take money previously approved by Congress for other items to build the border wall. And he voted for H.R. 1.

But he showed his independence by voting against Pelosi for speaker in January. Plus, this was the second time Van Drew has appeared on Fox News.

He’s also a member of the Blue Dog Coalition, made up of moderate and conservative Democrats who are concerned about fiscal responsibility, as well as the bipartisan Problem Solver’s Caucus.

 Rick Mellerup


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