Almost a year to the day after Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) was sworn in as the representative from New Jersey’s fifth congressional district, he sat down with The Jewish Link to reflect on his freshman year in office and discuss what is to come.
As he looked back at his inaugural year in Congress, Gottheimer noted the “enormous honor” he feels in representing his constituents, and mentioned several points that he believes sum up his time in office thus far.
He recognized “how much there was to learn” at the start of his term, and that he has “accomplished much in his freshman year,” specifically “how much my office has been trying to be helpful to people.”
Further, he remarked that “despite the polarized time in our country, I have a lot of faith and hope and feel strongly about how great of a country we live in.”
Regarding the polarization of the country and government, Gottheimer noted that “the people that I work with want to get things done.” He said, “It is most important to move things forward,” to find solutions and “common ground.”
He briefly discussed HR 4607, the Comprehensive Regulatory Review Act, and HR 4695, the Bipartisan Market Stabilization and Innovation Act of 2017, which seeks to solve uncertainty in the healthcare marketplace. His goal, in these and other matters, is to find bipartisan solutions because “if you do it together, the odds of it surviving are greater.”
Gottheimer acknowledged that on two of the bigger pieces of legislation, healthcare and tax reform, the vote was “purely partisan.”
“It’s a shame because we have seen historically that if it is purely partisan it is not durable,” he stated. “Things are not as good when done in a purely partisan way.”
This allowed him to segue seamlessly into discussing Israel, as he noted, “Israel cannot be a partisan issue and in recent years it has been partisan, sometimes hyper-partisan.” This has been a theme throughout his first term: that Israel must be a bipartisan issue.
He continued, “Israel is an essential ally to the US, not just for its security but for ours. It is the only democracy in the region.”
Congressman Gottheimer remarked that he supported the move of the embassy, and “vehemently disagrees with where the UN came out.” He reviewed his December 6 official statement on the embassy move, and said that he plans to introduce a resolution on Jerusalem that reacts to the United Nations General Assembly vote. His intention is that this resolution will be a bipartisan effort.
In furtherance of his support of Israel, during Gottheimer’s first year he co-sponsored and voted for HR 11, objecting to the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 as an obstacle to Israeli-Palestinian peace. He also voted for the FY17 Department of Defense Appropriations Act (HR 1301), which authorized $600.7 million for US-Israel missile defense programs.
In a statement regarding his “recent pro-Israel actions,” Gottheimer said: “The state of Israel is our most important ally and a beacon of democracy in the Middle East. That is why I have been working hard in Congress to address the many shared challenges our two countries face, including the threat of a nuclear Iran.”
Congressman Gottheimer believes that there will be continuing bipartisan opportunities regarding Iran, Israel and BDS, and commented, “We must do everything possible to stamp out Hezbollah” and “push back Iran,” its funding of terrorism and its lack of respect for human rights.
In his first term, Gottheimer wrote HR 2240, the US-Israel Joint Missile Defense Act, with Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL), to advance the Arrow 3 long-range missile defense system and protect Israel from a nuclear-armed Iran, as well as Hezbollah and Hamas. He introduced the Mast, Gottheimer, Royce, Engel Palestinian International Terrorism Support Prevention Act (HR 2712) to expand sanctions against, and cut off, Hamas. He also co sponsored the Royce-Engel bill to expand sanctions against Iran’s ballistic missile program (HR 1698), and the Iran Ballistic Missile Reporting Act of 2017 (HR 3078). In addition, he introduced HR 2856, the Combating BDS Act of 2017, to help states and local governments fight the boycott of Israel.
Gottheimer’s Problem Solvers Caucus, a Congressional bipartisan group co-chaired by Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY) that is equally divided between Democrats and Republicans, is committed to forging bipartisan cooperation on key issues.
Gottheimer noted that “people on the fringes are less willing to sit at a table and break bread.” Those who are more moderate are more likely to come to the table, he said, and we need more people like that.
“I believe there is a reason why people are frustrated with the government. People come to Washington and are not willing to engage and work. [Politicians] need to change their ways and solve problems,” he said.
In discussing his upcoming reelection campaign, Gottheimer concluded by saying he is going to concentrate on helping those in his district, fighting terrorism, fighting for Israel and fighting to make sure our New Jersey values are upheld. “The best thing I can do is focus on governing and fight for the people in my district,” he said.
By Jill Kirsch