As President Joe Biden gets set to address members of Congress to lay out his legislative agenda, Rep. Mikie Sherrill believes the American Jobs Plan will be a boon to North Jersey.
“It is an investment in the future of North Jersey,” said Sherrill in an exclusive interview with North-JerseyNews.com. “We look at critical infrastructure it’s not just looking at the Gateway Tunnel project—its looking at broadband internet which has been a problem in Sussex County, looking at the Lackawanna Cutoff, which I think will really grow the economy in the western part of my district and looking at funding some of the physical infrastructure problems we have with our schools that have been underfunded.”
Sherrill recently toured the 11th District town of Bloomfield with Sen. Bob Menendez. Local elected officials are planning to use $26 million in federal monies from the American Rescue Plan to replace the remaining lead service water lines in the town within five years.
Investing in Infrastructure
The congresswoman recalled a remark during the tour by the New Jersey Senator that illustrated the importance of investing in infrastructure in her congressional district and in the U.S. as a whole.
“Sen. Menendez said “We have been riding on the Eisenhower infrastructure investments until this day’,” said Sherrill. “We have so underfunded our infrastructure—this bill really puts the investment into infrastructure. We used to be the envy of the world but we have lost ground in recent decades…this is putting us back on top.”
Part of that investment is prioritizing the Gateway Tunnel project that Sherrill stressed is not just significant for the local economy but nationally as well. But GOP lawmakers in Washington recently released a $568 billion infrastructure plan that the Congresswoman says hurts the Garden State overall and the needed mass transportation projects in the state.
GOP Plan Dismissed
It’s one that Sherrill called “a non-starter.”
“It was striking to me that the GOP Infrastructure plan not only took out some of the critical funding lines for Gateway but also tried to clawback some of the state and local funding from the American Rescue Plan,” she stated. “I have gone around in North Jersey to Democratic and Republican Mayors alike—they are counting on that money so that they do not have to furlough teacher, cops and government employees or raise taxes here.”
Besides cutting off needed funding lines, the Republican leaders specifically said they would not get rid of the state and local tax tax (SALT) reduction cap.
“So everything about the GOP version of this next bill would be harmful to New Jersey,” said Sherrill. “When we are building back better, we need to grasp both of those critical things in the next bill.”
To that end, the Morris County resident is vice chair of the newly formed bipartisan SALT Caucus. The caucus, which has members from New York, Maryland, California, Illinois, and Hawaii, is co-chaired by Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-5) and includes New Jersey Reps. Jeff Van Drew (R-2), Chris Smith (R-4), Andy Kim (D-3) and Tom Malinowski (D-7)
“I think we are moving toward a place with a bipartisan group of Congress members who are dedicated to getting SALT in the bill,” said Sherrill. “We have 20 members in the caucus and growing. It is critically important and we are writing the bill so I think we will see that there.”
The congresswoman refuted criticism that the SALT cap repeal would be beneficial to higher income individuals.
Hurts Middle Class
“The elimination of the deduction is such a problem for middle class families that it puts a downward pressure on New Jersey’s great public school systems, funding our police force, our teachers,” said Sherrill. “These things are so important to the people here in New Jersey.”
The GOP’s stand alone bill on physical infrastructure comes as the Biden Administration looks to fund key social infrastructure items such as child and elder care. Sherrill believes these are needed investments to ensure a full return to the workforce, especially women, that has been decimated by the coronavirus pandemic.
Women in the Workforce
“I have not always needed certain names for things to know that are good investments for our economy,” stated the two term Democrat. “Working mom’s have been hardest hit by this pandemic, harder hit than any other group. We have seen so many of the gains that women have made in recent decades lost during the last year.”
The congresswoman made the argument for people to return to the workforce to pre-pandemic levels, they need to have access to childcare that is currently fiscally out of reach for too many households.
“We need to make sure that single moms, who are really the backbone for so many of our families, are not underemployed,” said Sherrill. “The effects are being felt on their children, who then don’t have the same opportunities as so many kids across America. These are really needed investments in our economy.”