Her voice shaking with emotion, veteran state Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-37) chastised Republican senators who refused to align with a resolution condemning President Donald J. Trump for inciting last week’s insurrection.
“We’ve even heard the conspiracy theories about this election being repeated in the halls of the New Jersey Senate,” Weinberg said on the heels of remarks by state Senator Mike Doherty (R-23) and state Senator.
The final tally was 24-4, along party lines, with four Republican senators (State Senator Doherty, senator Bob Singer, Senator Joe Pennacchio and Senator Mike Testa, Jr.) opposing, state Senator Declan O’Scanlon (R-13)and state Senator Chris Brown (DR-2) voting aye, the others abstaining, and state Senator M. Teresa Ruiz (D-29) and state Senator Nia Gill (D-34) absent.
“I don’t understand how anyone can say we went too far in this resolution,” said Weinberg, who commended state Senator Ronald L. Rice (D-28) for introducing the resolution.
She couldn’t believe the timidity of the GOP.
“To be standing in the halls of the NJ State Senate and have to debate the insurrection,” an incredulous Weinberg said. “Stand up and condemn the action. This was an insurrection. It was a wound to democracy and if we can’t do that we are failing the people of New Jersey.”
State Senator Steve Oroho (R-24) objected to the resolution, and more than a few had a problem with some of Rice’s rhetoric, including the following observation: “If he [Trump] was born in a different time in a different country, he would have been Hitler’s best friend.”
“Certain wording [in the Rice resolution] is meant to divide us,” Oroho said. “Do we really need more division?”
State Senator Joe Vitale (D-19) chafed.
“To say this resolution continues to divide us – we are already divided,” said the Middlesex senator.
“Speak out against insurrection. It wasn’t just a protest. It all happened because this president has incited this kind of behavior.”
Senate Minority Tom Kean, Jr. (R-21) said he condemned the “violence action” that occurred on Jan. 6th, without identifying Trump as the ringleader.
“I would have hoped this caucus would have a chance to read this resolution more than an hour ago,” Kean said.
“I think he should leave early,” he added, in reference to Trump.
“Calls for unity without accountability always ring hollow,” said state Senator Troy Singleton (D-7). “All of us were attacked. The mob did not attack the Democratic people in the Capitol. When you don’t control the fervor of a mob, it travels like a flame.”
Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) added his voice to the argument.
“The blame is where it belongs. It was Donald Trump, not anyone else. Poor Mike Pence. ‘We’re going to hang him’. If they found him they would have hanged him,” Sweeney said. “This is unbelievable to argue over these words.
“Donald Trump did this, and if we would have had his way, and he would have overthrown this election,” he added.
Rice had sparked the debate when he first spoke on his own resolution.
“I rise to ask all of you to support this resolution,” said the Newark senator. “This resolution condemns President Trump and his supporters,” said the Newark “The resolution also urges Donald Trump to resign from office… for high crimes and misdemeanors. President Trump’s ‘Making American Great Again’ were the buzzwords to take us back to George Wallace.
“I’m appalled by what’s taking place, and I’m even more angry today thinking about the people who died [including a police officer from New Jersey],” Rice added.
Testa, who opposed the resolution, rose on Rice’s heels to condemn the “twisted agenda” and “the destructive actions” of the insurrectionists who laid siege to the United States Capitol last week following a Trump rally.
“It is time for our country to come together, but the language in this resolution goes too far,” Testa said.
Doherty doubled down.
“My constituents are constantly under attack,” he said. “The rhetoric didn’t start on January 6th. There were legitimate reasons for people to show up on Jan. 6th. They felt there were election integrity issues. …A lot of people, tens of millions of people are very upset.”
That comment forced Weinberg out of her chair.