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NJ Congressman Frank Pallone hosts town hall event in Long Branch

Congressman+Pallone+addresses+questions+from+constituents.
Congressman Pallone addresses questions from constituents.

Congressman Pallone addresses questions from constituents.

Photo Credit: Patrick Coveny

Photo Credit: Patrick Coveny

Congressman Pallone addresses questions from constituents.

By: Patrick Coveny, Fall Editor and Reporter

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Longtime New Jersey Congressman Frank Pallone met with District 6 constituents at a town hall at Long Branch High School on March 28. There, the veteran politician addressed questions from local residents regarding current legislative issues. The Congressman faced a packed audience and offered updates on the current happenings in a divided Washington.

Gun Violence Discussion

Pallone, a progressive Democrat with an “F” rating from the National Rifle Association, recently embarked on a district-wide speaking tour regarding the issue of gun control. Meeting with students at Long Branch, Asbury Park and Woodbridge High Schools, he repeatedly voiced approval towards the growing gun reform youth movement. Pallone was even the keynote speaker at the March For Our Lives protest in Metuchen, New Jersey which saw 1,000 people.

“I have been inspired by the millions of Americans, many of them young people, who are now calling for action to bring about common sense solutions to reduce gun violence,” said Pallone. “We cannot allow this moment to pass without enacting change. Your voice is essential to ensuring that Congress does not look the other way…I will do everything within my power to enact legislation to combat the gun violence epidemic facing our nation.”

Despite an obviously optimistic tone, Pallone spoke of his frustration with lawmakers over their inaction on the issue. Listeners audibly clapped and cheered in agreeance with their congressman’s sentiment. Pallone’s argument for tougher background checks and a ban on assault rifles was met with much support throughout the room. 

Affordable Care Act Discussion

The event also played host to a series of other spirited debates and discussions on hot button issues. A question and answer exchange soon commenced. Congressman Pallone detailed the role he plays as the ranking member on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. There, in 2010, Pallone helped draft the Affordable Care Act- a bill he defended that night against a crowd member who disapproved of it.. In the face of opposition, the lawmaker ridiculed House Republicans for repealing the bill’s individual mandate. Previously, this provision had slapped those who chose not to have health insurance with a penalty fine.

Later on, a disabled senior took the microphone to personally thank Congressman Pallone. He, the woman believes, made it easier for her to access much needed medical treatment by advocating for the expansion of Medicaid programs. Pallone responded by applauding Congress for renewing the CHIP health insurance program for children. Financing the program through the omnibus spending bill which ended the government shutdown, he claims, did not go far enough.  

EPA Scandal Discussion

Furthermore, the Democrat delivered strong condemnation for the scandal-ridden EPA Administrator. Scott Pruitt recently  revealed to have payed for lavish items and airfare with taxpayer dollars. Congressman Pallone criticized these revelations sharply. The Environmental Health Caucus member went as far as to suggest President Trump fire and replace Pruitt.

Mid-Elections

Pallone vowed to keep politics out of the night’s discussions, however. Even with midterm elections fast approaching, the town hall event did not include any campaigning or partisan jabs. Instead, the only conversations taking place were about issues facing New Jerseyans. In fact, one audience member asked his Congressman a tough question: why is Washington so polarized? The solution, he says, is for lawmakers to find compromise, and most importantly, always put their constituents first.

Before departing the venue for Washington, Pallone outlined what work he would do before the Easter recess. The Representative promised to join a pocket of House Republicans in demanding a bill to protect Dreamers from deportation. The Congressman ended his town hall by encouraging citizens to take an active part in the political process and to vote in November.

Soon, Pallone will ask voters for another two-year term this year on Election Day. Cook Political Report rates his race as “safely Democrat.”

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About the Contributor
Patrick Coveny, Editor

Patrick Coveny is a 17 year old senior at Colonia High School where he is a second-year journalism student and a fall editor at The Declaration. He is studious and dedicated to his education -his favorite classes being history and english.  In his free time, Coveny enjoys reading, taking pictures, listening to indie music, and spending time with friends. He is very excited to be graduating this year and hopes working on The Declaration will prepare him for college.

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NJ Congressman Frank Pallone hosts town hall event in Long Branch