Coughlin Outraged by Republicans’ Statehouse Behavior

Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin issued a statement supporting the Assembly Budget Committee’s approval of the NJ 2020 budget proposal put forth by Legislative Democrats.

Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-19) had a message for those members of the Republican caucus who refused to provide proof of vaccination when they reported today to the Statehouse, in violation of the rules.

“We’re nearly two years into a global pandemic,” said Coughlin. “We’ve lost more people to the pandemic than live in Hudson County.

“The only thing that was asked was to show they weren’t infected. I’m outraged. Twenty-eight members of the minority caucus could not be bothered.

“I’m more outraged that this is happening in the midst of a variant, as cases begin to rise.

“We’re better than that,” the speaker added.

He noted the presence at the Statehouse of people who have cancer and other underlying conditions, who are at risk.

“I will not abandon them,” said Coughlin.

The noncompliant members did gain entry to the chamber, prompting Coughlin to criticize security efforts – or non-efforts – in Trenton on this session day.

“There has been a colossal failure in terms of security here at the Statehouse,” Coughlin said.

Some background on this developing story, by way of The Associated Press:

New Jersey Republican lawmakers on Thursday scorned statehouse rules requiring proof of either COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test to enter the building and sought to halt the mandate with a lawsuit.

Assembly and Senate Republicans, who are in the minority, sued late Wednesday seeking to stop the requirement and set the stage for a confrontation with law enforcement officials. That’s because both chambers have scheduled votes for the afternoon, when legislators are expected to gather to cast their votes.

State troopers referred Peterson to the following October vote by the State Capitol Joint Management Commission:

The commission passed a resolution by a vote of 5-2 to require people in the Statehouse complex to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination along with their identification in order to gain access to the complex.

All members of the commission voted in favor of the motion except for Christine Shipley of the Senate Minority Office and Mark Duffy of the Assembly Minority Office, who affirmed the position expressed in a letter by Republican senators here.

Assemblywoman Shavonda Sumter (D-35), chair of the legislative Black Caucus, said, “For some Republican Assembly-members to refuse this protocol was foolish and disrespectful t the health, safety and well-being of our colleagues.”

Coughlin later issued the following statement on Thursday in response to Assembly Republicans’ refusal to comply with State House Covid-19 health and safety protocols:

“Today 80,000 families earning up to $150,000 received a tax credit and thousands of hardworking poll workers got a raise despite the fact that a small group of radical Assembly Republicans chose to put showmanship for their own gain above the interests of the working people of our state. Democrats came down to do the people’s business, complying with a reasonable common sense policy that millions of New Jerseyans follow each and every day, and we addressed the most pressing legislative matters.”

His full comments from the rostrum are below:

The State Troopers have informed me that several members have failed to follow clear rules established by the State House Joint Management Commission and the presiding officers of the legislature.

We are nearly two years into a global pandemic that has cost nearly 800,000 Americans their lives. To put it another way, we have lost more people to this pandemic than live in Hudson County.

On top of that, millions more have had to sit at home while their loved ones died alone, millions more have lost their jobs and their life savings and their businesses. Millions more have put off health care procedures, been isolated from their family, or suffered debilitating bouts of depression. Children have been forced to stay at home, learn from computers, and sacrifice their basic childhood rites of passage like prom and graduation. Children without access to an internet connection have lost years of schooling, and been abused and neglected in silence because a teacher isn’t able to see them or get them fed when walk through a schoolhouse door with a bruise.

The sacrifice by our neighbors, our loved ones, our children, our nurses, first responders and more has been stunning and breathtaking in its scope. I have been and remain in awe of the resilience of the people of New Jersey to weather the largest health risk in a century, and still come to work, follow the rules, maintain basic decency, take care of one another, and do everything that we, as a people can, to take care of the most vulnerable among us.

To be clear, in the midst of this sacrifice, the only thing was asked legislators to do today was show that they weren’t infected, to care about their colleagues and the people in the chamber.

I am outraged that in the midst of this sacrifice and resilience, 28 members of the minority caucus could not be bothered to exhibit this common decency and humanity—all because they would rather have a couple bits on TV news or cameras pointed to stand for some political theater. I am more outraged that this is happening in the midst of a new variant of this virus on our shores. And more still when we know very little about it, as cases once again begin to rise, and as we still have millions of children under the age of 12 who have not had an opportunity to be fully vaccinated.

I choose to believe that we as a people are better than this. But I am responsible for protecting the health and safety of people in the New Jersey in the State House. That includes mothers of young children who do not have an immune systems and risk being at the State House to do the people’s work. It includes people who have had cancer and do not have sufficient immune systems to fight off the virus. I will not abandon them in the name of a political stunt.

The Democratic Caucus came to Trenton today to take care of the people’s business. The Republican Caucus chose to care more about allowing an outbreak at the State House.

On top of that, as I have noted from social media, there has been a colossal failure in security here at the State House. I will not back down from the mission voters sent us here to do, nor will a single member of the Democratic Caucus. We will do the people’s business no matter what forum we must use to get the job done.

To qualify, we need to put the people’s business first. We spent time trying figure out how to do that safely and we will proceed towards that call.

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  • jeff s

    Totally childish grandstanding by these Republicans

  • double play

    Total Democratic committment to ” public control ” NOT public health.

  • Morrison2525

    It’s called a Photo Gop. That’s what happens when the only policies that members of the Gopposition party have are with insurance companies.

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