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WOODLAND PARK – While many are just getting over the more than month-long government shutdown, there remains the possibility of a second act the end of next week if a compromise on security funding is not found.
Rep. Mikie Sherrill is optimistic that won’t happen.
Speaking at a “Mondays with Mikie” event today in borough hall, Sherrill said bipartisan meetings in Congress to avoid another shutdown are ongoing and that they are “gaining a lot of momentum.”
An obvious problem is that this isn’t something just up to Congress. The president must approve whatever Congress dishes up.
As Sherrill moved through a crowd of about 50 people chatting and answering questions, one man said he was concerned about national security. That was Richard Cohen of Randolph who referred to last week’s’ folly in which the president contradicted and questioned public testimony given before Congress by three chiefs of the nation’s intelligence gathering organizations.
There’s no simple interpretation here, although Sherrill did say there is bipartisan support in Washington to protect the Meuller investigation. Cohen was satisfied up to a point. He said he’s confident Sherrill understands the issues, but noted “They (the Democrats) don’t control the Senate.”
Monday’s event was the second such gathering Sherrill has held in the month or so she’s been in office.
Keith Kazmark, the Woodland Park mayor, was happy to point that out, saying, “How great is it to have a U.S. representative who wants to meet with her constituents?”
The fortunes of Sherrill’s predecessor in the 11th District, Republican Rodney P. Frelinghuysen, began going downhill partly because of his reluctance to personally engage residents. You get the feeling Sherrill is not going to make the same mistake.
In brief remarks, the congresswoman highlighted her support for making voting easier, funding the Gateway Tunnel and expanding gun control. She said she also backs a bill opposing the expansion of offshore drilling, which long has been a bipartisan goal of New Jersey lawmakers.
She did not mention the so-called SALT deduction, which was a big Democratic campaign point last year. Afterwards, she said she remains committed to eliminating the $10,000 cap on federal income tax deductions for state and local taxes. The cap, which will begin impacting residents when they file taxes this year, is part of tax changes passed in late 2017.
Even more than a discussion of issues, these sessions give people a forum to air personal concerns. That brings us to Harvey Chertok, an 86-year-old Korean War vet who says he’s been denied VA disability benefits numerous times. Chertok said he has had a lifetime immune deficiency after getting pneumonia while in the service.
Chertok said Frelinghuysen tried to help his cause, but to no avail. Now, he hopes Sherrill can produce a different result.
On Tuesday, Sherrill gets to attend her first State of The Union address, a spectacle delayed a week because of the shutdown.
A number of liberal Democratic groups have urged women to wear white to the address. The purpose is two-fold – express solidarity with suffragettes of the past and to demonstrate support for economic issues important to women today such as equal pay and more money for child care.
Sherrill so far has aligned herself more with centrist Democratic groups than the left. So what will be her color of choice Tuesday night? She chuckled at the question, but gave no hint of her wardrobe.
“You’ll have to wait and see,” she said.