“Despite what you may see on Twitter, TV and on cable news with all the screaming and yelling, there's still plenty of us that are focused on where we can get agreement and where we can find common-sense solutions,” Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-New Jersey) said.
During the 2021 Big “I" Virtual Legislative Conference, Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-New Jersey), one of the leading moderate voices in the U.S. House of Representatives, engaged in a conversation with Charles Symington, Big “I" senior vice president of external, industry and government affairs (pictured left).
Rep. Gottheimer (pictured right), co-chair of the Problem Solvers Caucus—a bipartisan group in the U. S. House of Representatives equally divided between Democrats and Republicans—discussed the importance of cooperation in passing legislation, particularly as the nation recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Despite what you may see on Twitter, TV and on cable news with all the screaming and yelling, there's still plenty of us that are focused on where we can get agreement and where we can find common-sense solutions," Rep. Gottheimer said. “It is tough, and I wouldn't be honest if I said it was easy every day, but there are plenty of places where we actually do agree."
“Right now, one that we're very focused on is the transportation infrastructure package that the president has put forth," Rep. Gottheimer said. “We're working incredibly hard to find a common ground."
“What the president has proposed here is two packages—one largely physical infrastructure, which has been released, and a second, more social infrastructure package," Rep. Gottheimer said.
While the details of the second package have yet to be released and is reported to include tax increases, Rep. Gottheimer, who is also an influential member of the House Financial Services Committee, emphasized that “we have to be very careful about any tax increases right now in the middle of the pandemic. The last thing we should be doing is hurting families in our country who are struggling out of the pandemic."
Bipartisan legislation “is much more durable and longer-lasting," Rep. Gottheimer said, referencing legislation such as the Affordable Care Act in 2010 and the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in 2017, which have “both became political footballs because they were done in a purely partisan way and there was not enough input from either side."
A member of the House since 2017, Rep. Gottheimer has seen firsthand the impact of capping the state and local tax deduction in his district of Bergen County. In January, the congressman joined a bipartisan group of six other Members in the House to introduce the SALT Deductibility Act, a bipartisan bill to fully restore the full State and Local Tax (SALT) deduction.
“That [SALT deductibility limitation] really led to a lot of higher taxes in places like where you and I live. All we're saying is let's go back to a basic principle that every Democrat and Republican should appreciate, and let's avoid double taxation. Let's stand up for states and their approach and how each state wants to handle their tax code." President Biden has yet to make any proposal about the deductions.
Rep. Gottheimer is also very aware of the challenges posed to homeowners and businesses by the flood insurance market. “We've got to work out flood—that is such a critical issue," he said. “We cannot do these temporary fixes any longer; it's got to be dealt with for the long term and is something that I've been fighting for and focused on."
“We want to make sure that we have insurance in place that is affordable for families and small businesses, many of which are part of your association," Rep. Gottheimer added. “That's going to be just like we did with terrorism insurance, something that we're going to have to address straight away."
Olivia Overman is IA content editor.