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Sunday, May 19, 2024

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Van Drew Updates Chamber on Washington, Critiques Governor

Nick Vaugh

By Eric Conklin

COURT HOUSE – The Aug. 20 Cape May County Chamber of Commerce meeting remained powered by the internet, as members were given an annual legislative update from U.S. Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-2nd).
From a personal device using Zoom, an online video streaming service, Van Drew offered chamber members insights about the state of politics in Washington, both in Congress and the Senate.
Post Office Supported; Others Need Funding
Van Drew began his speech by pledging his support for the U.S. Postal Service a week ahead of a possible funding deal. While acknowledging that Americans send fewer letters through the service, he referenced it as “historic,” adding that funding it is essential because of its relationship between retailers and consumers.
Van Drew also added that President Donald Trump is on board with funding the service. The numbers for a funding bill, Van Drew said, range from around $10-$25 billion.
While many lawmakers and the president support a bill for Postal Service funding, Van Drew recognized that the Senate’s leadership seeks to have legislation to fund more needs instead of a standalone bill for the Postal Service. Some of that funding through, what Van Drew referred to as, a “skinny bill,” would include money for education, vaccine preparation, unemployment insurance, and others.
The congressman also criticized House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for her stance favoring a bill for the Postal Service only, and not other necessities.
“I think that’s an error,” Van Drew said. “I think we’re there to work. My job is to work for you, and I think we should be there working and getting things done.”
Van Drew added that the Senate bill is “quite good,” appending that he feels the bill has a lot of aspects lawmakers and the president can agree upon. He criticized Congress because he feels that it will only vote on the single bill Pelosi backs and not the legislation supported by Senate leadership. Congress passed its Postal Service bill Aug. 22, totaling $25 billion, which now heads to the Senate for further consideration.
“We’re wasting more time,” Van Drew said of the single Postal Service bill.
“I wanted to be elected, I wanted to work hard, and I want to get things done, and I want to straighten stuff out,” he added.

Analysis of Governor
Van Drew took a strong stance against Gov. Phil Murphy’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic’s economic turmoil, citing workers unable to receive unemployment insurance and how, Van Drew feels, the governor should have structured his reopening plan around the state’s different areas, citing Cape May County’s low case numbers. The congressman and others joined a lawsuit, in June, urging the governor to open more businesses across South Jersey.
Van Drew remains concerned about the state’s Motor Vehicle Commission, and how he feels its reopening isn’t fulfilling New Jerseyans’ needs, with the addition of long lines and separate transaction centers in out-of-county locations, calling the reopening “unacceptable.”
“Our folks down here travel well over an hour, and then they have to wait for hours,” Van Drew said. “The government works for us; we don’t work for the government. That’s something people have to understand.”
Van Drew took particular interest in addressing how Cape May County businesses were not allowed to reopen sooner, perhaps dampening their chances of a more successful summer financially. He compared Cape May County to northern New York and how businesses there could reopen sooner because of the coronavirus not having as strong of a presence, adding that Gov. Andrew Cuomo allowed restaurants to reopen in that portion of New York earlier this year.
“We should have been allowed to open,” Van Drew said. “It was shameful. I actually think it was mean spirited.”
“I know of people who have lost their jobs, but worse than that, definitely some people have lost their businesses, and that is a shame,” he said, also adding that he’s curious as to how the governor will address outdoor dining come the colder months.
Van Drew briefly discussed his disapproval for an election with exclusive use of mail-in balloting, saying that while he supports mail-in ballots and finds it useful, an entire election relying solely on the voting method could lead to fraud and result delays.
Van Drew is running for reelection this year. He’s set to square off against Democratic nominee Amy Kennedy. Her husband, former U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy, of Rhode Island, is the son of late U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy.
Talks with Trump
Van Drew noted that he remains in contact with Trump, whom he pledged his support, in 2019, then joined the Republican Party after he was criticized for not supporting Trump’s impeachment. He later joined Trump on stage at the Wildwoods Convention Center, in January, for a Keep America Great rally. Topics in which he remains in contact with the president and his staff include economic recovery for tourism-based businesses, again citing the governor’s decision to bar certain businesses from reopening.
When asked by Cape May County Chamber President Vicki Clark about preserving the J-1 workers’ program, Van Drew said allowing the program to continue will take “vigilance.” Clark noted that the program, which helps provide staff for county businesses, may be “in the balance” because of Trump’s recent executive order on immigration. Van Drew pledged his support for the program and said he seeks to inform the president on the program’s importance to the county’s business community.
Congressman Awarded
Nick Vaugh, from the Eastern Region of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, presented Van Drew with the Spirit of Enterprise and Jefferson-Hamilton Bipartisanship awards before his remarks. The Spirit of Enterprise Award, the U.S. Chamber’s highest award, is given to Congress members who demonstrate pro-growth and leadership on positive legislation, and the Jefferson-Hamilton Bipartisanship Award, a new award, recognizes Congress members who practice bipartisanship within the U.S. House of Representatives.
Vaugh lauded Van Drew for his support for several pieces of governmental actions, such as expanding contracting for small businesses, the Cadillac Tax’s repeal, and the ratification of the USMCA Trade Deal. He also praised the congressman’s support for the business community’s response to economic strain due to the pandemic. All of Van Drew’s actions, he feels, benefit not only the Second Congressional District, but Americans across the nation.
“It’s important that we all work together in bipartisan fashion,” Vaugh said, “and I think your congressman is the testament of the true success we can have when we work across the aisle for the betterment of the business community.”
“Thank you, and that was a great speech. I’m going to use you on the trail,” Van Drew replied, adding that he plans on working hard to create more bipartisanship and help businesses. “This is a true honor for me, and I really do appreciate it. It means a lot.”
“A new Chevrolet Suburban goes with that, too, right?” Van Drew joked after being congratulated by Cape May County Chamber Chairman Doug Burke, owner of Burke Motor Group, in Court House.
Van Drew’s remarks are available on the Cape May County Chamber’s Facebook page: https://bit.ly/32g7F3c
To contact Eric Conklin, email econklin@cmcherald.com.

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