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As New Jersey's congressional delegation voted in April

Last month saw perhaps the biggest vote Congress has taken this entire legislative session: a significant legislative package that provides foreign aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan and could lead to a ban on the social media app TikTok.

Congress also reauthorized a key federal surveillance law, dismissed impeachment charges against the secretary of Homeland Security and began imposing a series of new sanctions and restrictions on the Iranian government. Here's how New Jersey's 13 members of Congress voted on each critical issue. (The state's 14th congressman, Rep. Donald Payne Jr., died April 24 after a series of health problems; he was not present for any votes in Washington in April.)

Click here for a web version of the New Jersey Globe's April 2024 vote tracker with links to the bills and votes in question, or scroll to the bottom of this article for a PDF version.

Foreign aid and TikTok

After months of debate, hesitation and acrimony, both houses of Congress this month finally approved aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan; Also included in the package was a foreign policy bill that, among other things, requires TikTok to be sold by its Chinese parent company in order to remain available in the United States. President Joe Biden signed the package into force almost immediately after his departure.

In the House of Representatives, the four main components of the package were divided into separate bills, allowing members to express their support or opposition on each issue individually. One of the four — the relatively uncontroversial Indo-Pacific relief bill — received unanimous support from members of the New Jersey House of Representatives, but all of the other three did attracted exactly one critic.

On the $61 billion in Ukraine aid, Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-Dennis) joined 112 Republicans who voted “no,” in line with his previous votes for a reduction in U.S. aid -Support for the Ukrainian war effort against Russia. Van Drew said the bill should have included measures that take into account where the money goes and a change in immigration policy in the U.S. to win his vote.

“I’m sorry for the Ukrainian people and the border problems they have, but we have to take care of our people and our border first,” Van Drew said Newsmax said a few days after the vote.

The $26 billion aid bill for Israel, meanwhile, drew a “no” vote from Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-Ewing), one of 37 Democrats and 21 Republicans who opposed the bill. Watson Coleman has established herself as the most progressive member of the New Jersey House of Representatives, particularly on the Israel-Palestine issue.

“Although I have supported funding for Israel's defense capabilities such as the Iron Dome in the past, I could not in good conscience vote to send more offensive weapons to the far-right Netanyahu government,” Watson Coleman said in an explanation of her vote. “This would deviate from the goal of achieving lasting and sustainable peace for the region and ensuring the return of Israeli hostages. I believe in a two-state solution, in peace and in accountability; Continuing to deploy strike capabilities to Israel distracts us from these goals.”

Finally, the TikTok bill (which also contained numerous other foreign policy provisions) was opposed by Rep. Andy Kim (D-Moorestown), who also voted against a previous attempt to potentially ban TikTok.

In the Senate, the four bills were combined into an overarching package and passed by New Jersey Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker both voted yes; The bill passed by a lopsided margin of 79-18. But Booker said if he had had the opportunity to vote on each issue individually, he would have opposed the bill's TikTok provisions.

“I'm frustrated that this package contains riders that should have gotten through Congress on their own, like a provision to force a sale of TikTok,” Booker said. “I would have voted against this provision if I had the opportunity, not because I have no concerns about TikTok or its ownership structure — that is the case — but because I fear Congress is missing an opportunity to address larger issues with social media to address.” general.”

Surveillance laws

Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act may not be easy to dismiss, but it is an important and controversial part of the U.S.'s domestic surveillance laws — and it needed reauthorization this month.

In short, FISA allows the government to monitor the communications of non-citizens without a warrant and can also cover U.S. citizens if they communicate with targeted non-citizens. It's a policy supported by the Biden administration and senior national security officials, but one that faces opposition from both liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans.

After an initial false start, the reauthorization bill passed this month by a vote of 273-147 in the House and 60-34 in the Senate. Six members from New Jersey opposed it: Representatives Watson Coleman, Van Drew, Frank Pallone (D-Long Branch) and Chris Smith (R-Manchester), as well as Senators Booker and Menendez.

“I could not in good conscience vote to reauthorize FISA’s Section 702 program for two years without making significant reforms to prevent federal agencies like the FBI from searching Americans’ private electronic communications without a warrant,” said Pallone said NJ Spotlight News. “The bill passed by the House of Representatives included only minor reforms and retained provisions that allow the government to continue spying on Americans without good reason.”

Before votes in both the House and Senate, an amendment was proposed that would have prevented FISA from being used to monitor U.S. citizens; The same six New Jersey representatives and senators who voted against the bill supported this amendment.

Impeachment proceedings: dismissed

Republicans' efforts in the House of Representatives Impeachment of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas In the Senate, where Democrats are in charge and where impeachment would have required a two-thirds majority, it would always have been a futile attempt.

But after the House pushed through impeachment in February, Republicans couldn't even hold a real Senate vote on the matter. On April 17, Senate Democrats managed to dismiss the charges—which they derided as politically motivated and frivolous—without a trial, ending the brief spectacle.

All Democrats stuck to motions to dismiss the two articles of impeachment; The motions passed 51-48 and 51-49, respectively, for both Booker and Menendez vote for it.

Iranian sanctions

The House of Representatives passed an unusually high number of bills this month compared to previous months of this session: 42 bills, to be exact. And a large percentage of those bills and resolutions were related to Iran, which launched an attack on Israel earlier this month in retaliation for previous hostilities.

Most of the bills passed the House almost unanimously, with all New Jersey House members supporting them, but some drew some New Jersey critics. For example, Watson Coleman voted against a notable bill in which he declared the phrase “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” to be anti-Semitic.

“Anti-Semitism poses a threat to our communities here and abroad and should be concretely addressed to protect our Jewish neighbors,” Watson Coleman said said in a statement. “But continuing to vote on non-binding messaging resolutions to score partisan political points is not a concrete solution and ignores the seriousness of the situation. “This resolution inflames tensions when de-escalation must be the goal.”

A small coalition of New Jersey Democrats — Reps. Watson Coleman, Kim, Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair) and Bill Pascrell (D-Paterson) — also rejected a handful of successful bills that would limit the president's power to lift sanctions against Iran and Restrict Iran-bound Institutions.

Click here for a web version of the vote tracker.

April 2024 Votes – House of Representatives. Votes in April 2024 – Senate

Anna Harden

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