Gov. Phil Murphy dodged questions from four different reporters today about last week’s chaos in the statehouse, claiming that he and acting Superintendent of the State Police Patrick Callahan could not comment on security matters.
Callahan’s state police were tasked last Thursday with preventing those who did not obey the capitol’s vaccine-or-testing mandate from entering the Assembly or Senate chambers, but after Assembly Republicans refused to comply, state troopers relented. Several changes have been made to the mandate in the days since, with little clarity on what has been driving them.
Callahan was asked repeatedly today about the Assembly standoff and the fact that some troopers have been reassigned in the days since, but Murphy preempted him and shut down further discussion.
Murphy did, however, make sure to harshly criticize the Republicans who refused to abide by the policy, saying that their actions amounted to “idiocy.”
“This is not about freedom or civil rights,” Murphy said. “It’s about their willingness to volitionality run the risk of infecting innocent, law-abiding folks who have done the right thing during this pandemic. It is outrageous, absolutely outrageous. Incredibly irresponsible. Unforgivable.”
This week, further showdowns over the policy have been averted, with Senate Republicans largely complying and Assembly committee hearings switched to remote. Next Thursday, however, the capitol will once again hold a full voting session, and it’s not yet clear what Murphy, Callahan, or legislative leaders intend to do.