Consensus in New Jersey

By Ryan McNeely


On ABC’s This Week on Sunday, NJ Gov. Christie was interviewed by Jake Tapper, who pushed the governor to articulate the Republican position on immigration and specifically identify who was blocking reform — reform that Christie claims to support. Christie replied that he doesn’t think there’s “one Republican position” but Tapper correctly noted that really the Republican position is to simply obstruct, as “there are Democrats offering a bill and they can’t get any Republicans to join them.”

Christie answered this by saying it’s the Democrats’ fault for not building “consensus”:

“Well, listen, the fact of the matter is they need to find a way to build consensus.  And I think that’s what the President said he wanted to do when he came to town, and I think that’s the challenge for those who are in the majority – find a way to build consensus.”

That’s what I’ve been doing in New Jersey, Jake.  We have a Democratic legislature.  I’ve passed a budget…with a Democratic legislature, a property tax cap with a Democratic legislature, pension reforms with a Democratic legislature.  If you want to lead and build consensus, you can, and it’s the obligation of those people in charge to build consensus.”

It actually is an impressive list of accomplishments, even if I don’t agree with the governor’s policy prescriptions. The problem is Christie’s definition of “consensus”:

The Democrat-controlled Legislature passed the Republican governor’s $29.4 billion spending plan early this morning, following a long and arduous night of debate at the Statehouse. Christie has scheduled a signing ceremony in South River for 1 p.m., about 12 hours after the Assembly approved his plan.

The budget cleared both houses with bare majorities under a deal in which the Democrats provided just enough votes for the Republican-sponsored measure to pass.

Hopefully Gov. Christie will join the supporters of Sen. Udall’s plan for filibuster reform as he clearly knows the benefits of majority-rule in the legislature. If not, he should place the blame for the failure of reforms to get through Congress squarely where it belongs: on members of his own party in the Senate who are insisting on a 60-vote threshold for literally everything.