Frelinghuysen: Trump Will Be Good Commander-In-Chief

By on January 17, 2017

Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen

Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen

During the primaries, Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-11th Dist.) was no fan of Donald Trump, a candidate he described as a pushy character who sowed division by insulting people.

But he has a different take of the man who will be sworn in Friday as America’s 45th president.

“I think when he assumes office on Jan. 20, I’m not sure he will change his style. But I think he’ll do a good job as commander-in-chief,” Frelinghuysen said at Monday’s 32nd annual Morris Interfaith Breakfast, honoring the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in Morristown.

In an interview with, the congressman also said he supports repealing Obamacare when his Republican colleagues come up with a replacement plan.

“Certainly there’s a real demand that we do something. We made a promise [to provide a new plan], but I do like the expression, the Hippocratic Oath: ‘Do no harm.’ So I think we’re going to proceed with caution,” he said.

Frelinghuysen said about 7,000 of his constituents from Morris, Sussex, Passaic and Essex counties have contacted his office about Obamacare, as the Affordable Care Act is known, and three-quarters of them have voiced concerns about their care under the act.

Many have lost access to their personal physicians. Some complain of high deductibles and premiums. And some states now have only one insurance carrier, Frelinghuysen said. Hospitals are growing too big through consolidations, and doctors are quitting because their malpractice insurance is too costly, he said.

As for the 20 million people insured for the first time under Obamacare, he said he expects they will receive better care under a Republican plan.

The biggest challenge, he said, will be determining how to continue coverage for those with pre-existing conditions, which he cited as the biggest driver of insurance costs. He also favors keeping young people on their parents’ health plans until age 26, a popular provision of Obamacare.

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A watchdog group called NJ 11th for Change showed up at the congressman’s Morristown office last week to urge him to keep Obamacare, unless he can come up with something better. Frelinghuysen said he wasn’t trying to dodge the protesters.

“I’m busier than I have been, so it’s not a question of not wanting to meet with people, just a question of coordinating my schedule.” He attended a Chinese New Year’s celebration in the District on Sunday, he said.

Frelinghuysen gave a measured response when asked if tax dollars should build the border wall that Trump promised Mexico would underwrite. Some GOP lawmakers have expressed interest in getting started while the new president figures how to compel Mexico to foot the bill later.

“As we proceed, Congress will work with the White House to see if the wall, whether it’s virtual or a permanent structure, that we can afford it and it’s done well,” said Frelinghuysen.

About 600 miles of wall already exists, he said.

“I think in some areas we need to continue to build a physical wall, but I think we need to make sure we have a virtual wall, eyes in the sky. Because there are a lot of people coming into our country not necessarily seeking a better life, but those who are involved in human trafficking, the drug trade and doing all sorts of things in terms of criminal activity.

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“We spend hundreds of millions of dollars each year paying for the Immigration and Naturalization Service, as well as law enforcement all along the border of certain portions of California, Arizona and Texas right now. And probably more because we don’t have a physical wall in some of those places,” Frelinghuysen said.

As for the incoming commander-in-chief, Frelinghuysen gave this assessment:

“I think for the last eight years, with all due respect to President Obama, he’s been leaning back, and our adversaries around the world, primarily the Russians, the Chinese, the Iranians, the North Koreans, they’ve taken advantage of the president’s ambivalence about national defense.

“One thing about Donald Trump is that he has strong feelings about national defense, and he’ll be supportive of our military, particularly our Special Forces people,” said Frelinghuysen.

This story is reprinted with permission from, an independent news partner of Verona, which had long been represented in Congress by Rep. Bill Pascrell, a Democrat, was gerrymandered into the heavily Republican 11th district under Frelinghuysen in 2012.

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