Home>Congress>Gottheimer, Menendez emerge as potential pivotal votes on SALT-free reconciliation bill

U.S. Senator Bob Menendez. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for the New Jersey Globe).

Gottheimer, Menendez emerge as potential pivotal votes on SALT-free reconciliation bill

Menendez: ‘I can be Joe Manchin right now’

By Joey Fox, July 28 2022 4:55 pm

With Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) reaching an agreement with Democratic leaders on the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) – a reworked version of earlier attempts at a major reconciliation bill – attention has now turned to other congressional Democrats who could potentially derail the brand-new bill.

Two of the names who have come up the most are New Jerseyans: Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-Wyckoff) and Senator Bob Menendez. The IRA does not include raising or eliminating the State and Local Tax (or SALT) deduction cap, a sticking point for many of New Jersey’s representatives, who say that their constituents are overtaxed.

So far, Gottheimer and Menendez have declined to take a firm stance on the SALT-free bill; the deal was kept a secret until late yesterday, meaning many members are still in the process of reading the bill text and studying its potential effects.

“I’ve got to understand the impact it has on families in my district,” Gottheimer, who led a cohort of nine centrist Democrats last year in a mini-rebellion against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, told Politico yesterday. “Until I see specifics it’s hard to know.”

Menendez, meanwhile, said that he will “look at the totality” of the bill and not just its lack of SALT provisions, but added that any single Democratic senator has the ability to sink the bill in a 50-50 chamber.

“Anybody can be Joe Manchin,” he said. “I can be Joe Manchin right now.”

Manchin has long been the biggest roadblock to reaching a deal on reconciliation, and he was one of two Democrats, the other being Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), who ultimately killed the original Build Back Better Act. The fact that he is on board with the new bill dramatically increases its chances of success, and puts more pressure on other Democrats to fall in line.

One of Manchin’s demands has been leaving the SALT cap untouched, putting him at odds with Menendez, Gottheimer, and fellow New Jersey Reps. Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair), Tom Malinowski (D-Ringoes), and Bill Pascrell (D-Paterson), all of whom have strongly pushed for a SALT cap repeal.

That may end up being a problem for Malinowski in particular, who is locked in a highly competitive race against former State Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean Jr. (R-Westfield). Malinowski has said “no SALT, no deal” during previous reconciliation talks, and if he does vote for the SALT-free IRA, Kean – who also supports eliminating the SALT cap – is sure to make it a major campaign issue.

Progressive groups in New Jersey have begun pushing New Jersey’s representatives to support the IRA, with some specifically singling out Gottheimer and Menendez.

“We urge Congressman Gottheimer, Senator Menendez and all New Jersey members of Congress to put the wellbeing of New Jerseyans above politics, and act to ensure these impactful and badly-needed reforms can be implemented immediately,” said Maura Collinsgru of New Jersey Citizen Action, a progressive advocacy organization. “Failing to do so is a dereliction of their duty to represent the people’s interests and needs.”

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