Saying that the votes simply aren’t there, Senate President Nick Scutari (D-Linden) threw cold water today on the prospect of passing Gov. Phil Murphy’s ambitious abortion proposals, which the governor first unveiled last month.
Asked whether the bill was unlikely to pass, Scutari simply said “yes.” Elaborating further, the senate president noted that the legislature has already taken action on abortion access, which is codified into state law thanks to last session’s Freedom of Reproductive Choice Act.
“We’ve won this debate – the debate is settled,” Scutari said. “New Jersey is an excellent place to be a woman and have a right to choose, to be able to have access to all the care that they need here. New Jersey already affords that.”
Scutari’s comments echo a general unease about Murphy’s abortion proposals from many in the Democratic caucus. Getting even the more limited Freedom of Reproductive Choice Act to pass was a difficult balancing act during the lame duck period, and with smaller Democratic majorities in both chambers this session, anything more expansive was always going to face a difficult path.
On Murphy’s third package of gun control legislation, another controversial flashpoint in the legislature as the spring term draws to a close, Scutari was more circumspect, saying that the Senate will work through each bill one by one.
“We’re looking at them bill by bill, making sure that we bring commonsense gun solutions to the people of New Jersey, and to ensure the bills that we pass could have an impact on gun violence,” Scutari said. “That’s what we want to see. Not just bills to pass bills, but bills that are focused on specific issues that could actually solve issues in our society.”
One of the package’s eight bills, allowing the attorney general to take legal action against gun manufacturers and retailers, passed a Senate committee earlier this week; none of the other seven has come before a committee, and the Assembly has yet to take action on any of them.