By John Celock
The Democratic-controlled New Jersey Assembly passed five resolutions Wednesday attacking President Donald Trump’s actions in office.
The Assembly easily passed resolutions attacking the president’s executive order banning travel in to the United States by residents from seven Muslim dominated countries, possible actions to end the Dreamer immigration program, for not mentioning Jewish victims of the Holocaust in a statement, for his pick to head the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and for removing information from the Agriculture Department website. The moves come as other Democratic states have taken steps to oppose Trump.
“We should not discriminate to anyone by their color, race and religion,” Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-Secaucus) said about the immigration order. “I think we’re going down a path that it is getting to the point where it is difficult to understand where we are headed.”
Prieto talked about being an immigrant from Cuba saying that coming to the United States taught him what freedom was. He noted that the United States gave him the opportunity to not only escape a “murderous regime” but also rise to be one of the most powerful men in New Jersey.
Under the resolution, Trump’s decision to fire former acting Attorney General Sally Yates for saying she would not defend the order in court was condemned. Prieto stressed that the resolution was not partisan.
“We need to make sure that we stand strong and our voices are heard. This is not about party politics,” he said. “Most of my family is Republicans and they feel the same way I do.”
Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee Vice Chairman John McKeon (D-West Orange) told lawmakers that the resolution opposing Trump’s nomination of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt (R) as EPA administrator was needed due to Pruitt’s views on climate change and lawsuits against the EPA on behalf of Oklahoma. He said that he is concerned that Pruitt will not defend the EPA in the lawsuits that he helped initiate as state attorney general.
McKeon said that he was troubled that an official from an oil producing state would take on an environmental regulation job in the federal government.
“Putting the power in the hands of Oklahoma, Louisiana and Texas to regulate oil and gas production, it would be like putting the power of regulating coal in the hands of West Virginia,” he said. “We know as state legislators how parochial people can be.”
The biggest debate came over the Holocaust statement from Trump, with Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R-Westfield) arguing that the resolution, authored by Assembly Budget Committee Chairman Gary Schaer (D-Passaic) did not tell the whole story. Schaer said that Trump’s statement on International Holocaust Remembrance Day was troublesome because it did not mention the Jews killed in the Holocaust or anti-Semitism. Jewish groups have been critical of Trump for not including the reference, which was commonly used by past presidents.
The White House has said that the statement was meant to include all of those killed in the Holocaust and that the statement was not a slight against the Jewish community. The statement also noted that Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor, Jared Kushner, who is Jewish, reviewed the statement before it was released. Schaer said that while other were killed in the Holocaust, the Jewish people were singled out.
“Six million Jews obliterated, massacred, murdered,” Schaer said. “The president’s actions should be condemned.”
Bramnick argued that the resolution was not including that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was at the White House Wednesday meeting with President Trump, which he noted did not occur under former President Barack Obama. He said that the resolution should have noted that Trump has made steps to reach out to the Israeli government.
Trump and Netanyahu held a series of meetings Wednesday, along with a joint press conference. The two leaders also had lunch with Netanyahu’s wife, Sara, and First Lady Melania Trump.
“If we forget that the prime minister of Israel was rebuked and not invited to the White House by the Obama administration.” Bramnick said. “I am not here to support President Trump but I am here to support balance in this chamber. We should stand up for Israel and show that the president brought the prime minister to the White House and show support for the state of Israel.”