Activists Exult Outside Lance’s Westfield Office Ahead of Affordable Healthcare Vote in Congress


WESTFIELD – On the same day that they learned of U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance’s opposition to the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, progressive activists mobilized outside the Republican congressman’s district office to celebrate, and to keep the pressure on him to follow through Thursday when he votes.

Beverly Brown Ruggia (pictured), community reinvestment organizer for New Jew Jersey Citizen Action was on the bullhorn.

“The cuts to Medicaid are not acceptable. We need Leonard Lance to remember that senior citizens cannot afford an increase in the cost of their healthcare,” Ruggia said to cheers.

The sidewalk was packed with protesters.

“You’re turning up here today is exactly what has to happen,” the organizer told the troops. “You need to be active and you need to continue to engage with your elected officials on all these important issues.”

InsiderNJ reported yesterday that Lance, U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo and U.S. Rep. Chris Smith all intend to vote no on the repeal of Obamacare, three of 24 similarly disposed GOP lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives.

That leaves only Republican Congressman Tom MacArthur and Rodney Frelinghuysen from New Jersey voting yes.

All eyes on Frelinghuysen…

For a full tally of Republicans in Congress opposed to the repeal of Obamacare, please go here.

Maura Collinsgru of New Jersey Citizen Action led the contingent to the Statehouse on Thursday for a rally ahead of the congressional vote. Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-32) plans to be in attendance on the Statehouse steps.

“Today at the Statehouse we are coming together with grassroots activists, legislators, labor leaders and others to raise our voices and let Congress know we are watching this,” Collinsgru said. “Since our vigils last night, Beverly’s experience was replicated everywhere. There is a moral outrage. the sense of ‘how could they do this?'”

…and a fluid T-Mac.

And it gets worse, she said.

“The talk is that [Speaker] Paul Ryan and [President] Donald Trump are working with the freedom caucus on more changes that propose the elimination of essential health benefits, that will become optional. which means the stripping of more safeguards.

“Today the pressure is on Congressmen Frelinghuysen and Tom MacArthur,” she added. “We certainly hope they will vote no. We applaud congressmen Smith, Lance, and LoBiondo.”

MacArthur is an  interesting spot.

The late U.S. Rep. John Adler, a Democrat occupying a longtime GOP district, was the only one in his party from  New Jersey to oppose the Affordable Care Act ahead of the 2010 elections. He lost a squeaker to MacArthur’s predecessor, former Eagles offensive lineman Jon Runyan.

In CD11, an animated Assemblyman John McKeon (D-27) is kicking the tires on a 2018 run against Frelinghuysen. Livingston Councilman Al Anthony is also looking hard at a run.

The situation is so fluid and the bill is changing literally by the minute, a Republican source told InsiderNJ. MacArthur took the position that he wants to work with leadership and factions within the GOP to make the bill better, instead of just standing in the corner.
A Democrat working the issue in D.C. also spoke on background to InsiderNJ about the status of the healthcare overhaul bill. “At the moment, the Republicans don’t have the votes needed from the conservatives in their party. Any changes made to bring them on board then loses moderate Republicans. It’s a mess on a bad bill that’s being rushed with no CBO score. New Jersey Republicans, to their credit, are seeing what a horrible bill this is for the elderly, children and disabled people covered by the ACA Medicaid expansion program. Cutting Medicaid expansion will kill NJ and over 800,000 New Jerseyans will lose coverage. Our Republicans in Congress are finally ‘getting it.'”




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