April 13, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Advocating for Israel, Congressman Scott Garrett Runs for Re-Election

Teaneck–This past summer, Congressman Scott Garrett (R-NJ) shared the immense outrage that he heard from his constituents–Jewish and non-Jewish alike–about Hamas’ war with Israel in Gaza.

“Starting with the kidnapping and killing of the three teenagers, and continuing with the unconscionable conduct that came from Gaza and Hamas, I continue to have the heartfelt belief that Israel has the right to defend itself, its sovereignty and its own people,” Garrett told JLBC in a phone interview. Garrett shared that he has been to Israel numerous times and particularly remembers visiting Sderot and hearing of the daily struggles the population went through there.

Garrett shared that he was moved by a summertime visit to a local New Jersey summer camp last year, which invited children from Sderot for a week or 10 days, “so they could live without worries and be like normal children.”

“That being said, Roy Cho [Garrett’s election opponent] went over to Israel during that time [the Gaza war]. On the one hand, he saw with his own eyes what was going on, and that people were being hurt. In the same breath, he said that Hamas has to decide whether it’s a terrorist organization or a government we can deal with. How anyone can think that Hamas is not a terrorist organization is beyond me,” said Garrett. “Hamas is a terrorist organization. It should be treated as such by Israel and by the U.S. It’s not an organization we can deal with as a government entity,” he added. “The loss of life in Israel is terrible, but the loss of innocent life on the other side is also awful,” he said.

As a member of the Budget Committee and Financial Services, both of which are affected by international markets, Garrett is not afraid to take strong positions on international issues and has traveled extensively, but he notes that his base has been in New Jersey his whole life. Born in Englewood, and a lifelong New Jersey resident, Garrett has been elected to represent the 5th district of New Jersey since 2003. However, Bergen County only became part of Garrett’s district in 2011, when districts were redrawn. While Garrett is considered the most conservative member of the New Jersey congressional delegation, Bergen County has long been considered more moderate.

Before his election to Congress, Garrett was a member of the New Jersey Assembly beginning in 1992. Trained as a lawyer, he lives in Sussex County. Garrett said his record of New Jersey residency contrasts sharply with the multiple out-of-state residencies of his opponent, as Cho reportedly only “established residency” by renting an apartment in Hackensack, last year. He also did not vote here last year, instead choosing to vote at another residence, according to reports.

Cho, a Democrat, is 33 and a former congressional staffer, Port Authority executive, and attorney. A directly mailed campaign paid for by Scott Garrett for Congress also indicated that Cho has not voted in the majority of elections since 2005.

Garrett is a stickler for watching the voting records of others and is proud of the votes he earns from his constituents. He feels they are votes given based on his priorities in Congress.

“My top priority is to address economic growth and job creation. So many people are suffering. Everywhere I go, I meet people who have been laid off. These people are maybe 50 years old, and their prospects of finding something else are slim…In each case, the story is one of the economy not doing well,” he said.

Garrett added that on the flip side of the age spectrum, young people also have a lot of difficulties finding jobs, or they can’t find one in their desired field. “My priority is to push back excessive taxes and regulations on business that are hurting job creation in the state,” he said.

Garrett explained that businesses large and small err on the side of not hiring in times of economic uncertainty, especially when new government regulations are constantly being enacted, which adds additional costs to each workplace hire. “From small businesses, I hear some much uncertainty, and fear of new taxes. People are uncertain of the employment situation. I am trying to counter this legislation,” he said.

A second priority, but no less important, falls under the umbrella of security. “Obviously, right now, health security is on the front burner. As soon as the Ebola problem became clear I wrote a letter to CDC and the President that more needed to be done immediately. I recommended closing our borders to flights in,” he said. Instead, President Obama hired a politician, a friend of his, as Ebola czar. “It’s typical of this administration to place another layer of bureaucracy. I wrote legislation to go back into session to end flights in and provide greater transparency,” he said.

Another side of Garrett’s security priority is international security, including that of the terrorist threat from ISIS, the Islamic State.

“Just prior to us leaving Washington, the White House said ISIS was the JV (junior varsity) team, and then a few weeks later, it said it is an existential threat to the region and the world and we have to take action the next day. We had lots of top secret briefings asking the White House what’s going on here.”

“We had the response of why are you telling us this now? The DOD was telling the White House this a year and a half ago. The reason the White House decided not to take any action is because the President failed to show up at most of his intelligence briefings. He failed to do what a commander-in-chief should be doing. More than half the time he’s not there getting the data,” Garrett said.

Garrett said he voted no on the amendment which was to train vetted Syrian rebels because the Commander-in-Chief failed to articulate a clear mission, a definition of success, and what a proper endgame would be. As importantly, the administration failed to articulate “how on earth we will vet Syrian rebels,” he added. He said that Obama must not have learned what he did with the situation in Iraq. “We spent trillions of dollars in five years in Iraq, and they fell apart at the first sign of battle,” he said.

A third priority, which Garrett believes is of great interest to his Jewish constituents, has to do with school/education vouchers. “I have been–forever–a long, strong proponent of the voucher system. The well-being of the child should be decided by the child’s own parents.” Garrett said he supported it in Washington DC, where they have it as a pilot program. “The other side of the aisle has been vehemently opposed to this program. They feel that the only schools that are good are those that you don’t have a choice to attend.”

To that end, Garrett has written a bill called the LEARN Act, which stands for Local Education Authority Returns Now. The bill puts the power into the hands of teachers and parents, locally. “It allows the money to remain right here,” he said.

By Elizabeth Kratz

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