HOBOKEN – Bipartisanship.
Everyone’s favorite word.
Gov. Chris Christie references the concept in the NJ GOP’s latest radio ad wherein he projects an alliance with Senate President Steve Sweeney’s (D-3) tax plan priorities while badmouthing the offering of the Assembly Majority Democrats.
Democrats on the federal level fronted the same dynamics at their press conference today, as U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood stood in the Hoboken Transit Station and praised U.S. Senators Bob Menendez and Frank Lautenberg for helping to pass a “bipartisan transportation jobs bill” in the upper chamber by a 74-22 margin.
“I’m thrilled that the Senate has passed a bipartisan transportation bill that will put millions of Americans back to work repairing our aging transportation infrastructure,” said LaHood of the “Moving Ahead Progress in the 21st Century Act,” which locally would provide New Jersey with $500 million for transit projects and $1 billion per year in highway funds.
“If the House follows their lead, we can relieve congestion on our roads, expand our transit and rails systems, and provide Americans with safe, affordable ways to reach their destinations when gas prices are high,” the transportation secretary added.
Menendez and Lautenberg soaked up repeated applause lines from fellow elected officials for their “bipartisan work,” as to a man everyone focused on the lower House enemy: a Republican Majority.
When he spoke, Menendez himself mentioned the lower house’s duty.
“The fact that it could pass in bipartisan fashion speaks volumes,” said the senator up for re-election this year. “Now it’s time for the House Republicans to do their part. If we can get our Republican colleagues in the House to pass this, help is on the way.”
A band of Democrats including the senators, Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise, Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer, and local Councilwoman Beth Mason welcomed U.S. Rep. Albio Sires (D-13) to the microphone, beckoned as a regional champion positioned to defy Congressional Republicans.
“Albio, the ball’s in your court now,” said labor leader Ray Pocino of LIUNA. “Break the Washington gridlock so we can break the gridlock in our own communities.”
At the state level, Christie’s radio message of pliable Senate leadership contrasting with a harder-to-budge governing body in the lower chamber mirrored the Democrats on transportation. In the NJGOP’s commercial, the governor pointed out that he and Sweeney agreed in principle on a tax cut and called for Assembly Democrats to join them.
In Christie’s ad, the governor takes credit for pushing Sweeney toward his tax ideology.
“Two years ago Governor Christie promised to turn Trenton upside-down and with Senator Sweeney’s announcement of support for tax relief, it’s clear he has delivered on this promise,” says the voice-over. “After presiding over 115 tax and fee increases in eight years, not to mention a 70% jump in property tax rates, watching New Jersey Democrats reverse course and fight to cut taxes is a testament to Governor Christie’s leadership and ability to enact real change.”
Sires in his remarks today pinpointed politics as the lower house Republicans’ chief obstacle to backing the transportation bill. “We have the busiest ports here in New Jersey,” he said. “We consume all the products that come through the ports. Let’s make sure New Jersey gets its fair share.”
“Politics is the hold-up,” LaHood confirmed.