Unsuccessful at getting their representative to meet them on home turf, three busses filled with activists organized by New Jersey 11th for Change took their quest to Rodney Frelinghuysen’s (R-11) office in Washington, D.C., and some of them got a face-to-face meeting with the formerly reclusive congressman.
Formed shortly after the presidential election, the nonpartisan group opposes the Trump/Ryan agenda and has been vocal about Frelinghuysen’s drift to the right over his 12 terms in Congress. Members have been demanding he meet personally with constituents in the districts four counties, which include Byram, Hopatcong, Ogdensburg, Sparta and Stanhope in Sussex County, but Frelinghuysen refused to show up at their weekly demonstrations at his New Jersey office or at any of the Town Hall meetings set up by NJ 11th.
Nevertheless, pressure from the group is credited with causing Frelinghuysen to break out of lockstep with Ryan and speak out against the proposed Trump/Ryan health care legislation, a move that some observers believe signaled the act’s death knell.
Three groups of about a dozen constituents each met with Frelinghuysen, who is chair of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, on Wednesday afternoon, reporting that they received satisfactory answers to questions about health care, but that they still want Frelinghuysen to meet with residents of his district at Town Hall meetings in their home counties.
They got no commitment for those meetings.
Now serving his 12th term in Congress, Frelinghuysen previously was thought invulnerable in a traditionally conservative district.
Now, however, progressives in the district have made it clear that they are not going away, and will hold him accountable on issues other than health care, such as funding for science, maintenance of the social safety net, women’s reproductive rights and other priorities under assault from the GOP hegemony in Washington.
And his claim to a seat in the House after the 2018 Congressional elections is no longer a sure thing.