Congressman looks forward to next session in Washington, D.C.

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Congressman Frank Pallone addressed a variety of issues during a breakfast discussion on Aug. 23 in Keyport.VASHTI HARRIS/STAFF
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Congressman Frank Pallone addressed a variety of issues during a breakfast discussion on Aug. 23 in Keyport.VASHTI HARRIS/STAFF
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As members of Congress prepared to head back to work after Labor Day, Congressman Frank Pallone Jr. expressed his hope for bipartisan efforts in Washington, D.C.

Answering questions on issues ranging from bipartisanship in Congress, to recent events in Charlottesville, Va., to the opioid crisis in New Jersey, Pallone explained his stance on various issues during an informal meeting with local reporters on Aug. 23 at the IHOP restaurant, Route 36, Keyport.

“I honestly believe there is a lot more bipartisanship out there in Congress and if President Trump would just allow it or not oppose it, I think we could do three things: I think we could do improvements to the Affordable Care Act, I think we can do the infrastructure bill and I also think we can do tax reform,” Pallone said.

Tax reform cannot just cut the corporate tax rate, it has to provide relief for the middle class, according to Pallone.

“If [tax reform] does not have middle class tax relief then it’s not going to happen because the Democrats are not going to go for just help for large corporations. We want to see tax relief that actually helps the little guy,” Pallone said.

Since President Donald Trump has not prioritized an infrastructure bill, there has not been any movement for such a bill to be drafted, however, there have been discussions and ideas among Democrats, he said, adding that Democrats are trying to get Republicans involved.

Pallone and his committee have put forward the Leading Infrastructure for Tomorrow’s America Act which is a proposed infrastructure plan that would use $170 billion to invest not only in roads and highways, but also in broadband for areas that do not have that service, water infrastructure, electricity and hospital construction, and Superfund toxic sites cleanup, according to the congressman.

“We need unity on things that bring us together,” Pallone said. “Eighty percent of what we (congress members) do in committee is bipartisan.”

Regarding the opioid crisis in New Jersey, Pallone said, “It is completely out of hand. We need more funding for treatment and more needs to be done.”

In regard to the Affordable Care Act, Pallone said now that the idea of repealing the act appears to be over, there are Republicans who are interested in getting together with Democrats to move a bill that would improve the act rather than repeal the law.

He said Trump needs to be a “uniter” and expressed his dissatisfaction with the president’s current stand on Afghanistan, immigration policy and dealing with the aftermath of a rally that turned deadly in Virginia.

After the recent event in Charlottesville, Pallone and local religious leaders voiced their opposition to white nationalists who were present at the Virginia rally and to Trump’s response regarding what occurred there.

Pallone and the clergy representatives spoke on Aug. 16 outside St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, Long Branch. He said he chose Long Branch as the place to address the issue because in 1924 there was a Ku Klux Klan rally in the city that was the largest KKK rally in the north.

“In the aftermath of Charlottesville, I thought there was not enough emphasis on the religious aspect of this, in other words, whether you are Catholic, Jewish or Muslim … that we are all sort of targets and the fact this could happen anywhere because it happened in [Charlottesville],” Pallone said.

“One of the things that white supremacists, KKK, Nazis, is that they act as if they are Christians, they use the cross [and] they use Christian symbols … my point was that religious leaders need to speak up because these guys, these supremacists, call the name of Christ and Christianity. I think that is a dark period in our history we don’t need to go back to, that we should not go back to,” he said.

Pallone represents New Jersey’s Sixth Congressional District, which includes most of Middlesex County and much of Monmouth County, including the county’s Bayshore region and 12 communities on the Atlantic Ocean.

Contact Vashti Harris at vharris@newspapermediagroup.com