Government

Congressman Lance Fields Questions on Russian Sanctions, Electoral College, DACA Reform at Town Hall

e723abd9bbb0e97212e0_4a590e13aee5dac1f456_f9cfadd430338155c3e8_20180210_091016.jpg
70e32f34bccae273241f_6d6e912e2375e059f009_20180210_103409.jpg
b0a6b1c17318fce4c500_20180210_103451.jpg
e723abd9bbb0e97212e0_4a590e13aee5dac1f456_f9cfadd430338155c3e8_20180210_091016.jpg

BRIDGEWATER, NJ — With Bridgewater Township Police prepared outside the Bridgewater-Raritan Middle School for potential protestors, Rep. Leonard Lance, R-7, held his 46th town hall meeting Saturday, fielding questions from constituents about his thoughts on the relevance of the electoral college, sanctions on Russia and immigration reform.

Only two protestors made an appearance as people left the meeting, with drivers honking at a man with a sign stating “Honk to Dump Trump and Lance,” and another pacing in front of the school with a sign that read “No Alt Facts.”

But inside the school, constituents peppered Lance with questions regarding his beliefs on the current state of foreign affairs and domestic leadership.

Sign Up for E-News

One resident of Cranford questioned Lance’s stance on the electoral college, and whether he believes it should be changed or eliminated entirely.

Lance drew on a story of his father, who was president of the New Jersey Electoral College in 1968, when Richard Nixon was elected president. Lance said his father was opposed to the possibility of a George Wallace presidency in the three-way race of that year.

“In 1969, my father testified and moved to do away with the electoral college, and I tend to agree with that,” he said to his first round of applause from the audience.

Lance said that in the current system that put Donald Trump in office in 2016, and George W. Bush in office in 2000, candidates campaigned in a particular way to focus on potential swing states.

“New Jersey is ignored in the current process,” he said. “I favor our not being ignored, and having a healthy competition between the Republican candidate and the Democratic candidate. I think we would get more attention if it were a direct election.”

“Both candidates come to New Jersey for one reason, and that is to raise money, and I don’t like that,” he added. “The swing states are the ones that are currently at the top of the attention.”

Lance said that eliminating or changing the electoral college, however, would require a Constitutional amendment that requires a two-thirds vote in the House and Senate, and then a ratification by three-quarters of the state legislatures.

“I don’t want to leave this with the impression that this is easy to achieve,” he said, “but I believe that in our modern democracy, the need for the electoral college that may have existed when the Constitution was written in 1787 no longer exists, or largely doesn’t exist.”

Questions from constituents immediately turned to the Russia investigation, what actions the House of Representatives is taking to protect the integrity of the elections from Russian interference and why harsher sanctions have not been applied.

“I favor the Russian sanctions, I voted for them, and if we need to make them stronger, I would vote for that,” Lance said. “I think the president should put into place the sanctions that the Congress of the United States has suggested.”

Lance said he wrote a letter to the secretary of state indicating this point of view, and added that Congress overwhelmingly believes sanctions should be put into place against Russia.

“I believe Russia is a bad actor, it continues to be a bad actor, and, as the CIA director has said, he believes Russians may continue to meddle in the elections,” he said.

“Regarding what we should do beyond the sanctions as to meddling in the elections, in my judgment, the best way to proceed is to make sure various federal agencies are appropriately funded, and I am aware in general terms of the extremely fine work of the Department of Homeland Security in trying to fix the threat to American democracy,” he added.

That is why, Lance said, he voted early Saturday morning to fund the United States government in a bill that will fund the government until March 23, and then is a two-year blueprint. It includes an outline for two years, with an increase in defense spending by $80 billion and domestic spending by $63 billion in year one, followed by an increase of $85 billion in defense spending and $58 billion in domestic spending for the second year.

“I believe it is in the best interests of the United States that it become law,” Lance said. “I do not favor a shutdown of government.”

Another constituent said it is very likely that the president is compromised with regard to Russia and thinks Congress needs to be doing more to step up and enforce the sanctions. She said it is important that Lance and his fellow members of Congress take action, and questioned what residents can do to make it happen.

“You’re helping this morning by being here and asking the question,” he said, despite shouts from the audience that that isn’t enough. “I agree with you on this issue and do not diminish the help that you provide by asking a fine question at a town hall meeting.”

In line with the concerns about Russia, Lance fielded another question from a Westfield resident regarding the Robert Mueller investigation into Russian tampering in the presidential election. The resident questioned whether Lance would work to protect Mueller from being removed from his position.

“I was the first Republican in the House to suggest that Attorney General Jeff Sessions should recuse himself on the Russia investigation,” he said. “Through the actions of many, including me, he did the right thing and recused himself. The deputy general became the acting attorney general, and he appointed Robert Mueller. I have supported him in his work and will continue to do so.”

“I hope and expect that he will continue in his responsibilities,” he added, to which a member of the audience shouted that hope is not a strategy.

Lance added that it would be a constitutional matter to remove Mueller from his position. The president himself could not remove him, and it would have to be done by the attorney general, who is already recused from the matter. 

The deputy attorney general, who is acting attorney general Lance said, would probably not remove Mueller.

Another main topic of conversation regarded immigration and the concerns about DACA, and one Bridgewater resident questioned Lance on his thoughts about immigration reform.

Lance said he is in favor of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) reform and a path to make legal those who are currently in the United States in an undocumented status.

“The young people came to this country with parents, as infants or young children, and I do not want them to remain in the situation they are in at the moment,” he said.

Lance said he has already signed on to a piece of legislation that is a clean dreamer bill, as well as another one that includes better border security.

“I can understand why there are many who favor a clean bill, but I think what is most likely to pass Congress would be a bill that includes greater border security,” he said.

“What I mean by that is I don’t think we will be building a wall across the entire southern border,” he added to applause. “But I do believe we need greater border security, we need greater fencing, more drones, more personnel and the promise that was made in the mid 1980s that was we legalize those who are not here legally.”

Lance said Trump, in the State of the Union address, suggested a path for DACA regarding legalization, as well as citizenship for 1.8 million people in that population.

“I am open to that,” he said.

Lance also addressed a question regarding his vote with Trump to undo some consumer protections and Wall Street reform enacted during the Obama Administration.

Lance said he believes there is a strong need in the country to have community banks, and the legislation in place previously created over-regulation on the community banks.

“We provided some regulatory relief to community banks across the country,” he said. “I believe in community banks, and community institutions in many regards, based on my experience of having lived my entire life in the district in Hunterdon County, and I have experience representing small municipalities. I believe in the appropriate regulation of big banks, but I do not favor the overregulation of community banks.”

Additional questions centered on Lance’s opinions of Trump’s conduct in office, or, as one Clinton resident described, the president’s “shenanigans.”

“I believe it would be fair to say that our personalities are not only not the same, they are quite different,” Lance said. “I believe the president would be better served if he tweeted far less than he does. I understand why he tweets to address the American people directly, but I think he does it too much and inappropriately.”

A Short Hills resident questioned whether Lance is appalled by the conduct of the president, who “lies on average of five times a day and has been accused of sexual misconduct, and has invited people into our White House who are corrupt, white supremacists and wife beaters.”

“I will continue to speak out where I think the president is wrong not only on policy, but also regarding matters that you have raised, and I want you to know that I certainly will take back to Washington your comments and points of view you have expressed,” Lance said. “I hope that in the future there can be greater civility, and that includes greater civility on the part of Mr. Trump.”

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Westfield

22nd Annual Union County St. Patrick’s Day Parade Steps Off March 10

February 23, 2018

UNION, NJ — Twenty-one years after the first Union County St. Patrick’s Day Parade stepped off on Morris Avenue the tradition continues on Saturday, March 10 at 1 p.m. sharp with thousands of marchers and spectators gathering to celebrate the patron saint of Ireland.

This year’s Grand Marshal, John McPartlan of Scotch Plains, will lead the march of bagpipe ...

Mayor Brindle’s Update

February 15, 2018

The following are highlights from the update that Mayor Shelley Brindle gave at Tuesday night’s town council meeting.

I first want to congratulate Nick Calello and David Went for their promotions to patrol officers in the Westfield Police Department. I’d also like to welcome and congratulate new Patrol Officer Fortunato Riga, who joins the police department this week upon his ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_9cfec6f1d81f034823a4_1d4v9602

Sat, February 24, 1:00 PM

Westfield Area YMCA, Westfield

Free Kids Expo and Water Safety Event

Arts & Entertainment Health & Wellness

Sat, February 24, 7:00 PM

Grand Summit Hotel, Summit

The Burlesque Ball

Arts & Entertainment Giving Back

Carousel_image_2e2e4830042112095f66_94f09724857a937db1ac_d6404e0a-7afd-4279-b56f-19b0f9b2138c

Sun, February 25, 10:00 AM

Camp Riverbend, Warren

Camp Riverbend Open House

Westfield Police Blotter: Man Steals 60 Pairs of Pants from Downtown Store & More

February 21, 2018

February 14, 2018 10:53 p.m.

Officers Gill and Weiss arrested Luis Murillo, age 30, of Rahway, NJ, for two outstanding warrants out of Westfield Municipal Court ($500) and Woodbridge Municipal Court ($500) pursuant to a motor vehicle stop in Scotch Plans Township. Subject was transported to headquarters, processed and released after posting requisite bail.

 

February 15, 2018 5:24 ...

Lance to Speaker Ryan: Bring Background Check Bill Up for a Vote

February 23, 2018

Congressman Leonard Lance (NJ-07) today led 18 Republican lawmakers in a letter to U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan calling for H.R. 4477 – the Fix NICS Act, to come up for a vote as a standalone measure.  The Fix NICS Act reauthorizes the National Criminal Instant Background Check System and institutes compliance certification measures and penalties for failing to comply.  ...

The Missing Moses

A seemingly dubious distinction belongs to this week’s Parshah, Tetzaveh (Exodus 27:20–30:10). It is the only reading in the Torah — from the first Parshah of the book of Exodus (in which he is born) until the end of the book of Numbers — where the name of Moses is not mentioned. Tetzaveh’s opening words are V’atah ...

‘Month of Hope’ at Wilson School

Inspired by the HOPE Week Initiative introduced in 2009 by the New York Yankees, Mr. Joseph Malanga, principal of Wilson School and a fan of the American League professional ballclub, declared January the “Month of Hope” at Wilson.

Malanga called on the school’s faculty Acts of Kindness Committee to choose the charitable organizations to be recipients of the weekly donation ...

AtlantiCast

AtlantiCast: Episode 12

On this week’s episode of AtlantiCast, decade of excellence makes headlines, as Atlantic Health’s place on Fortune Magazine’s 100 Best Companies to Work For List leads off the newest episode of AtlantiCast. Also on this week’s show, check out the newest “hybrid” operating room at Morristown Medical Center and find out how Atlantic Health is helping local ...

Would the Stock Market Affect Your Home Purchase?

"Fasten your seatbelts; it's going to be a bumpy night." ("All About Eve.") While most people misquote this as "It's going to be a bumpy ride," the actual quote works better for the movie. Bette Davis delivers this with the classic style that made her one of the most loved actresses of her generation.

Well for the stock market it’s been a wild bumpy ...

Good News in NJ for Veterans

Beginning in the 2017 tax year, New Jersey will give an additional $3,000 exemption for military veterans. You are eligible to claim this exemption NJ state income tax return if you are a military veteran who was honorably discharged or released under honorable circumstances from active duty in the Armed Forces of the United States on or before the last day of the tax year.

 

The ...

How to Talk with Kids About the Florida Shooting

February 13, 2018

The tragedy of the Florida school shooting is devastating, leaving 17 killed and 15 injured. Our children can easily identify with what occurred yesterday. It will be the topic of conversation today in schools everywhere. School administrators are doing all they can to provide support and guidance. The shootings affect children, teachers, and school personnel. The school shooting ...

Love Craft Beer But Hate the Tour? State Assembly Moves to Make it Easier for You to Belly Up to the Bar

Good news is a brew for New Jersey craft beer advocates. In February 2018, the New Jersey Assembly’s Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee paved the way for the introduction of Bill A2196, which would remove a current licensing rule requiring breweries and distilleries to provide a tour of their facilities before serving alcoholic beverages to consumers. Currently, breweries holding a ...

'What Stays' exposes family secrets and lies

‘What Stays’ exposes family secrets, resentment and lies

By Liz Keill

SUMMIT, NJ – In an original play by Laura Ekstrand and Jason Szamreta, the Dreamcatcher Repertory Theatre has provided an enlightening, funny and heart-felt view of family foibles.

Ekstrand has said that the germ of the play came from conversations with the ensemble members of the troupe, based on ...

Is FAANG Long in the Tooth?

Investors love to rally around a stock story. Today it’s all about the FAANG stocks. Facebook (FB), Amazon (AMZN), Apple (AAPL), Netflix (NFLX) and Google (GOOG) are a major reason why the S&P 500 rallied so much in 2017. Mr. Market is convinced the FAANGs are impervious to a sell-off. “Its different this time” is ringing loud and clear, but will the outcome really be that ...

Imagine a Chatham Toboggan Ride from the Top of Fairmount Avenue to Main Street

Did you know….
there was a time when Chatham kids could ice skate from downtown Chatham all the way to Florham Park? And that a toboggan ride could last from the top of Fairmount Avenue down to Main Street and beyond?

Those were the days!

This was back in the early to mid-1900s. The Passaic River meandered through grassy meadows and woods on the north side of Chatham. The marshy ...

Obituaries

Kathleen Marie Christian (nee Helmstetter), age 73 of Surf City, NJ, passed away peacefully at home ...
Read more

NBA Star Dennis Rodman Enjoys Life in Livingston

February 23, 2018

LIVINGSTON, NJ — Former National Basketball Association (NBA) star Dennis Rodman’s friends say he is “living like a Livingston kid” while he is in town doing an outpatient program for Turning Point Rehab Center.

Livingston native Chris “Vo” Volo, an agent for Prince Marketing Group, has been representing Rodman for seven years and the two quickly became ...