TRENTON, N.J. – In blatant violation of the rules of the General Assembly on Thursday, Speaker Craig Coughlin and Democrats shut down Republican efforts to address the skyrocketing gas prices and America’s energy crisis.
The contentious exchange between Assembly Republican Leader John DiMaio and the speaker arose following Coughlin’s ruling that Assemblyman Robert Auth’s motion to make his resolution (AR103) the order of the day was ‘out of order.’ The resolution calls on the federal government to approve construction of oil and natural gas pipelines, including those previously denied or shut down.
“It was an abuse of power today as the majority declared it is ‘rules for thee, but not for me.’ They are violating their own rules of the Assembly to effectively silence the Republican’s right to debate an issue on the floor,” DiMaio (R-Warren) said following the voting session. “Republicans offered multiple motions to force the Democrats to confront the energy crisis that is affecting every resident of New Jersey, but they pulled out all the stops and cited inapplicable rules to make sure we were shut down.”
According to Assembly rule 15:5, “Any bill or resolution may, by vote of at least 41 members, be made the order of the day, on which it shall be considered in preference to any others whether or not it is on the calendar for that day.” The speaker ruled Auth’s resolution could not be made the order of the day, because it was awaiting a hearing in a committee, saying it had to be relieved from committee. When asked to relieve it from committee, Coughlin said that was out of order too.
Attempts by DiMaio and Assemblymen Brian Bergen and Jay Webber to challenge the ruling were cut short by Coughlin despite Assembly rules specifying any member can speak on a motion to appeal a ruling. Ultimately, the speaker’s decision was upheld by the majority.
“The Democrats tried to castigate Republicans for not following house rules, but they were the ones who chose to ignore proper procedures to avoid something they don’t want to talk about – skyrocketing energy costs. It’s because it is their policies that put us here in the first place and they refuse to consider the real-life consequences of their progressive agenda,” DiMaio added.
Additional Republican efforts to confront the energy crisis included Assemblyman Jay Webber’s motion to convene a committee of the whole. It would have forced a bipartisan discussion on ways to lower the price of the gas. It was tabled by Democrats. Assemblyman Christian Barranco’s motion to push a bill (A3329) back for purposes of amendment to ensure that the affordability issues with Gov. Phil Murphy’s Energy Master Plan were thoughtfully addressed in a committee hearing was also tabled by Democrats.
Although the Assembly rules were the same for the last legislative session, Republicans successfully made four motions to make a bill the order of the day.