TRENTON — A Democratic-led override of Gov. Chris Christie’s veto on the legislature’s Port Authority reform bill slated for a vote today is unlikely to be successful, sources say.
Both Democrat and Republican sources ahead of a 12 pm Senate session when the bill is set for a vote tell PolitickerNJ that the measure’s sponsors likely do not have the two-thirds majority support needed to overturn Christie’s veto. The veto override is one of the most anticipated pieces of legislation on the docket this afternoon.
Passed unanimously by both houses last year, S2181 — an identical version of which is being moved through the legislature in New York — aims to overhaul and bring greater transparency to the bi-state agency in the wake of recent toll hikes and traffic scandals. Originally slated for March 5 but postponed until today, Senate Democrats have spent the last several weeks attempting to recruit Republican support for the override, to uncertain success.
The bill’s Democratic sponsor, state Senator Bob Gordon (D-38), said earlier that he was “encouraged” by some Republican’s openness to supporting the override, citing certain “hostile” language directed at Christie and his lack of leadership in Trenton in recent months.
But sources say those efforts have ultimately been unsuccessful: Democrats are still two Republican votes short of the three needed for a complete override (only state Senator Mike Doherty (R-23) has affirmed his support for the bill).
At least one Democratic member of the legislature expressed some anger over the upper house’s handling of the override endeavor.
“I’m frustrated that the override didn’t happen sooner, because now I think that the Republicans have a defense to say, well, we put this other bill out there,” Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-38) told PolitickerNJ last week. “We waited, what, three months for the override? This happened December 28. So we should have worked on this come January, and now it’s March.”
Huttle said Democrats’ chances for a successful override were likely decreased further with the introduction of a modified version of the bill by Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean (R-21) this week. Kean’s bill nixes many of the original legislation’s more stringent reforms in hopes of making them more palatable to both parties, as well as Christie — though Democrats say they won’t buy into a compromise.
“So we’ve given Republicans some time to come up with a different bill and that bill is a weaker version,” she said. “And that’s what happens. They do weaker version and that’s their defense.”
“The override should’ve happened sooner, and unfortunately that has not occurred,” she added.
If passed, today’s override would be the first time the legislature opposed a veto by Christie since the Republican took office in 2011.