Frelinghuysen Votes Against GOP Tax Bill

By on November 16, 2017

Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen

Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ11), who represents Verona in the U.S. House of Representatives, broke ranks with his party today to vote against the Republican tax plan, citing its limitations on property tax deductions as one of the reasons for his No vote.

The bill, H.R. 1, was approved by a vote of 227 to 205, which included all House Democrats and 13 Republicans. In addition to Frelinghuysen, New Jersey Republicans Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ2), Christopher Smith (R-NJ4) and Leonard Lance (R-NJ7) all voted No. Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-NJ3) was the only New Jersey Republican to vote in favor.

As now drafted, the GOP tax plan would cut the corporate tax rate to 20% from 35% and end or restrict deductions popular with middle class taxpayers, including the one for deducting state and local taxes from federal returns. According to an analysis by NJSpotlight.com, the SALT deductions taken in tax returns filed from Verona for 2015 averaged $24,480. H.R. 1 caps caps the deductible amount at $10,000.

“Today I opposed H.R. 1 because it will hurt New Jersey families who already pay some of the highest income and property taxes in the nation,” Frelinghuysen said in a statement. “Specifically, this measure unfairly limited the state and local tax (SALT) deduction which is vital to many families. H.R. 1 also reduced mortgage interest deductions. These changes will certainly erode property values, one of the most important financial assets for many New Jerseyans. These provisions alone could do much damage to the business climate in our state, a trend we must never tolerate, let alone encourage. I am also opposed to the elimination of the medical expense deduction.”

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“I had hoped that 2017 would be the year that Congress enacts permanent, pro-growth tax reform,” Frelinghuysen added. “In fact, I was looking forward to voting for legislation that creates jobs, increases paychecks, reinforces fairness and expands the economy here at home, while strengthening America’s competitiveness around the world. However, I simply could not support the legislation due to very negative impacts it would have on so many of my fellow New Jerseyans.”

Today’s vote is something of a reversal for Frelinghuysen, who has served in Congress for 22 years and is now chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. In October, he was the only Republican from New Jersey to vote in favor of a budget resolution that facilitated the tax plan.

NJ11th For Change, a group that has been advocating for policies that are in the interests of all voters in the 11th congressional district, said via Twitter this afternoon that “We all need to thank @USRepRodney for voting NO on a bill that will hurt New Jersey.”

Jon Whiten, president of the think-tank New Jersey Policy Perspective, slammed today’s vote. “Today the House of Representatives helped America take a step backward by passing – with the help of one New Jersey Congressman – an expensive and inequitable tax proposal that will be a disaster for New Jersey,” he said.

According to NJPP’s analysis, the House bill gives New Jersey’s wealthiest taxpayers–the top 1%–an average tax break of $25,100 a year. It raises taxes on 27% of New Jersey households, who would pay an average of $2,200 more a year. Whiten added that H.R. 1 “squeezes states like New Jersey on both ends: deep cuts to federal programs would reduce services for state residents, at the very same time the loss of key federal tax deductions would make it harder for states like New Jersey to raise enough revenue to provide a current baseline of services – much less make up for reduced support from the federal government.”

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The plan approved by House Republicans today must still be reconciled with a bill being put forward by Senate Republicans that would also further undermine the Affordable Care Act. Republicans hope to get a bill completed for President Trump’s signature before Christmas.

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