Menendez Addresses Southern New Jersey Development Council; Vows to Fight Against Trump’s ‘Hostile’ Policies

Menendez Addresses Southern New Jersey Development Council; Vows to Fight Against Trump’s ‘Hostile’ Policies


DEPTFORD, N.J. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez today joined South Jersey business leaders at a public policy breakfast hosted by the Southern New Jersey Development Council (SNJDC), where he discussed the importance of investing in infrastructure, funding health care programs, and ensuring developing communities have the opportunities to revitalize and compete economically.

“No matter where you stand on the political spectrum, I think we can all agree that New Jersey has had it rough under the Trump Administration,” Sen. Menendez said. “Look, no one enjoys being in the congressional minority or having the opposing party control the White House. But from tax reform to transportation to public health and so much more, I am not exaggerating when I say that we are dealing with a White House that is outright hostile to New Jersey.”



Last year, Sen. Menendez kicked off his Jersey Jobs Tour where he is meeting with business owners, entrepreneurs, workers, students, and local leaders in each of the state’s 21 counties to discuss how to drive innovation, create great economic opportunity and deliver prosperity to the people of New Jersey.

SNJDC is a non-profit organization that serves as a government affairs liaison and economic development advocate for its members. Its main goal is to create a better economic environment in the southern eight counties of New Jersey.

Sen. Menendez’s full remarks are below, as prepared:

Good morning everyone. Thank you, Mike, for that kind introduction and for all you do to elevate the incredible work going on at Rutgers Camden. Let me first thank SNJDC President Marlene Asselta and Board Chair Ed Hutchinson for inviting me to join you today. 

We have a great deal to discuss this morning. But before I begin, allow me to offer my condolences to everyone who knew and worked with Gloucester County Surrogate Helene Reed. Throughout her nearly three decades in elected office, Helene touched the lives of so many in this community.  My thoughts and prayers are with her family.

I’d also like to take a moment to thank the sponsors of today’s event: Rutgers Camden, Jefferson Health, Deborah Hospital, Inspira, and the Gloucester County Chamber of Commerce, as well as the dozens of public and private sector leaders from across South Jersey here today.

While preparing for this morning’s “Policy Breakfast,” I realized there’s so much to discuss that we could probably go straight through “Policy Lunch, Dinner, and Dessert” as well. 

No matter where you stand on the political spectrum, I think we can all agree that New Jersey has had it rough under the Trump Administration. 

Look, no one enjoys being in the congressional minority or having the opposing party control the White House. But from tax reform to transportation to public health and so much more, I am not exaggerating when I say that we are dealing with a White House that is outright hostile to New Jersey. 

How else would you describe an Administration whose tax reform law not only robs hardworking New Jersey families of billions of dollars in state and local tax deductions, but endangers the investments in education, health care and transportation that make New Jersey such an economic powerhouse?

How else would you describe an environmental policy that opens up the Jersey shore to offshore drilling, jeopardizing our pristine beaches, iconic boardwalk businesses, thriving fisheries and tourism industries, while ignoring the existential threat that climate change poses to coastal property values upwards of $800 billion? 

How else would you describe an Administration whose infrastructure plan doesn’t actually invest in infrastructure; that shifts the costs of projects like Missing Moves to commuters by imposing even more tolls, and whose budget wants to prevent projects like the Glassboro-Camden Light Rail from accessing New Starts funding? 

These are just a few of the reasons it feels like Donald Trump has it out for New Jersey. But despite the President’s best efforts, I fought to secure record funding for New Starts in FY18, an additional $1 billion for TIGER Grants, and over $2.5 billion in extra funding for highway projects.

In the face of these challenges, I want you to know that as your Senior Senator I’m working harder than ever to defend New Jersey’s interests and deliver for our families.

The good news is that in the Senate, hard work and persistence pays off even when your party isn’t in power.  I’ve directed my staff to use every legislative vehicle available and every opportunity possible to stand up for New Jersey families, businesses, and communities. That’s how we’ve been able to cut through the noise and get results – including on priorities vital to the South Jersey community. 

I’ve been working tirelessly to make sure New Jersey hospitals and community health centers get their fair share of federal funding. Last summer, I was pleased to lead the charge in the Senate and successfully convince the Trump Administration to recognize that yes, while Medicare classifies New Jersey as one of three urban-only states in the country, we deserve fair treatment when it comes to caring for seniors in our rural communities.

This was a bipartisan effort and it paid off for South Jersey seniors, bringing $36.5 million in additional Medicare funding to 17 rural hospitals across New Jersey – including Deborah Heart & Lung and Inspira Health locations in Vineland and Woodbury to name a few. 

Look, we all know that New Jersey’s bustling cities and close proximity to Philadelphia and New York give the Jersey economy a great competitive advantage. But that doesn’t mean our seniors deserve less. That’s why I also went to bat for Deborah during the budget negotiations – pushing back against Republicans who would prefer to keep Deborah locked out of funding opportunities under the Medicare Dependent Hospital Program.

Of course, making sure South Jersey’s rural hospitals get a fair shake wasn’t our only health care victory in the recent budget agreement. I’m proud that we boosted funding for community health providers like CompleteCare and South Jersey Family Medical Centers, which together serve over 280,000 patients across southern New Jersey each year. And in the coming months I’ll be working to make sure that New Jersey gets its fair share of the historic investment we made to battle the opioid epidemic that has torn apart so many families across our state. 

I believe that providing families with access to affordable and quality health care isn’t just a moral imperative. It’s an economic imperative. Our families, our communities and our country are stronger when everyone has a fair shot at fulfilling their God-given potential.

That means making bold investments in education and working to provide every student willing to work for it access to free community college. That means protecting proven programs like the Community Development Block Grant from being eliminated in President Trump’s budget – and working to help more New Jersey communities take advantage of incentives like the New Markets Tax Credit that promote prosperity and economic opportunity. 

That's why I've fought for the people of Camden, with street revitalization grants that helped pave the way for big employers like Cooper and Suburu to expand and create jobs. That’s why I’ve led the fight in the Senate for transportation grants that have made the new port in Paulsboro open for business. And spearheaded the bipartisan effort to bring the KC-46 tankers to Joint Base McGuire Dix-Lakehurst and keep South Jersey’s number one employer at the forefront of our national security.

Those of you who know me know that no one fights harder for New Jersey families. We all remember the destruction left behind by Superstorm Sandy. Destroyed homes. Millions without power. Dozens of lives lost forever.

Some politicians showed up for the photo-ops, and then skipped town. Not me.

When the cameras left, I stuck by New Jersey families. When Congress denied us disaster relief, I went to war and won for New Jersey families. And when they were cheated by government agencies, I fought back and delivered for New Jersey families to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars than they were initially provided. 

Some call me stubborn, I say I’m persistent. Maybe that’s the Jersey in me. But if that’s what it takes to keep New Jersey moving forward at a time when President Trump wants to take us backwards, then you can count on me. 

To the industry leaders, business owners, entrepreneurs, and community leaders today: so long as I am in the Senate you will have the power of my office behind you. 

Here in New Jersey, when the going gets tough, we get tougher.  I’ll never shy from taking tough stands or taking on tough fights when the lives and livelihoods of New Jersey families are on the line.