GLEN ROCK - While 14 individuals representing various causes protested Congressman's Josh Gottheimer's (D-Wyckoff) vote for a defense funding bill late in the afternoon Aug. 8, his staffers were inside meeting with those concerned about veterans who briefed them on the benefits of the bill.

According to an Aug. 8 press release, "The bill contains key resources to support service members and veterans."

"I think Congressman Gottheimer's opposition to some of the bill provisions, including the border wall funding, should be noted," Matt Fried, Gottheimer's district press secretary said.

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Gottheimer voted in favor of the defense appropriations bill that recently passed the House of Representatives. The bill included appropriations for the border wall.

Protesters were specifically angered by the funding for the border wall President Donald Trump promoted during his campaign and continues to support.

With a mock wall in front of them, one protester who addressed the group said, "We got rid of Scott Garrett because he did not represent the needs of New Jersey. Mr. Gottheimer should be on notice we're concerned."

"Our bottom line, brothers and sisters,"Analilia Mejia, executive director of New Jersey Working Families Alliance, said, "is actions in DC impact us here in New Jersey."

One of the organizers of the protest, Matt Smith from Food & Water Watch, a non-profit organization out of New Brunswick, said Gottheimer's voting record during his short tenure as a congressman (since January 2017), "has not represented many of his constituents."

Smith was concerned about energy infrastructure and Gottheimer's support of the Midnight Rules Relief Act, which expands the power Congress has to overturn regulations by allowing lawmakers to bundle together rules adopted in a president’s final year in office and overturn them at once.

Gottheimer was one of four democrats who supported the bill which passed 238-184.

The New Jersey congressman defended his vote stating "unnecessary and out-of-date regulations have been able to pile up on the books, burdening businesses large and small, and passing hidden costs along to families."

Support of Veteran's issues

Gottheimer's Director of Veterans Affairs met with local veterans in the Glen Rock office on Aug. 8 where the group discussed Gottheimer's support for resources to improve military readiness and the Veterans Administration, provisions for mental health and traumatic brain injury treatment to veterans, resources to fight opiates, pay raises to the nation's armed services, and plans to defeat ISIS and other terrorist organizations.

Further details of the legislation include:

  • Funding the Department of Veterans Affairs for mental health services, suicide prevention, traumatic brain injury treatment, homeless veterans assistance, cancer research and treatment and service dogs.
  • Requiring the President to submit a strategy to defeat Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and ISIS, and ensuring U.S. Special Operations Forces are funded and focused on protecting the U.S., and the world, from terrorist groups in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen, and more. 
  • Giving the Armed Forces a pay raise. The 2.4% increase is the largest raise in eight years.
  • Addressing a funding shortage for military readiness. By providing an additional $1 billion for readiness efforts, the troops will have the necessary equipment and training to be battle ready.
  • Taking care of those that sacrificed by extending the solvency of the veteran disability compensation programs that serves 4.5 million veterans and their survivors.
  • Resources critical to New Jersey priorities including:
    • Funding operations and maintenance requirements for every military installation in New Jersey, including $130 million to support the Armaments Research Development Engineering Center (ARDEC) at Picatinny Arsenal.
    • Promoting the Strategic Medical Asset Readiness Training (SMART) partnership that Hackensack Meridian Health and the U.S. Army Reserve recently initiated to train medical personnel for combat.
    • Funding New Jersey VA Medical Centers, including the new Sussex Community-Based Outpatient Clinic located in Newton. Additionally, the PTSD Clinical Team and Women’s Trauma Recovery Program at the Lyons Campus will receive full funding.
    • Offering a lifeline to current and retired service members affected by addiction. This bill provides funding for programs for opioid and addiction treatment and prevention programs at the VA and within DoD.

More details on this bipartisan legislation's provisions are available HERE.

No wall support

"While a number of Jersey priorities and national security programs are resourced in this funding measure, Gottheimer does not support every provision of the bill and voted to remove allocated resources for a wall along the nation's southern border, something he has said will not make our families or communities more safe while hitting taxpayers squarely in the pocketbook," the press release said.

Gottheimer said he supports "common sense" efforts to reform the immigration system.

"He is proud to defend Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and cosponsor the Encourage New Legalized Immigrants to Start Training (ENLIST) Act, bipartisan legislation to help qualified undocumented immigrants who came to this country as children earn legal status through service in the U.S. Armed Forces," his representatives said. "He also stood with mayors and police chiefs by voting against H.R. 3003, which would punish state and local law enforcement for prioritizing protecting public safety."

In a direct statement, Gottheimer said, "I am in Israel this week seeing first hand our nations' collaborative efforts to defeat terror, stand strong against Iran, and strengthen America's national security. I am grateful to these local veterans for serving our country and meeting with my team to discuss the vital provisions in the defense appropriations bill I recently voted for." 

"Our government's top priority must always be the security of our country and communities and having the backs of those who risk their lives to keep our families safe," he said.

“I thank Congressman Gottheimer for always standing by New Jersey veterans and making sure our service members have the resources they need abroad and the support they need when they return home,” David Pearson, Assistant Director of Veteran Services, Catholic Family and Community Services, said in a statement.