Seats on the influential House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee for two freshman New Jersey congressmen is “terrific news for the region,” says Kevin J. O’Toole, the chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
Newly-elected Reps. Thomas Kean, Jr. (R-Westfield) and Robert J. Menendez (D-Jersey City) have won assignments to the transportation panel for the 118th Congress.
O’Toole sees Kean and Menendez as cheerleaders for federal funds to support high-dollar bi-state transportation projects, saying their committee posts “means the infrastructure needs specific to our region will receive the attention they deserve in the House of Representatives.”
“I served with Tom Kean, Jr. in the Legislature for two decades, and I worked closely with Rob Menendez when he served on the Port Authority Board of Commissioners,” said O’Toole. “These are two serious-minded legislators who are amazingly attuned to the needs of New York and New Jersey and appreciate the importance of the Port Authority and its mission.”
With the two freshman lawmakers serving on the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, New Jersey maintains seats previously held by their predecessors: Menendez won the 8th district seat of Rep. Albio Sires (D-West New York), who stepped down after sixteen years in Congress, and Kean unseated two-term Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-Ringoes).
A former Republican senator, O’Toole recently won commitments from allies of New Jersey’s Democratic governor, Phil Murphy, to remain as head of the powerful bistate transportation authority, said he was “equally heartened by the bi-partisan representation” of his home state on the House committee.
“Infrastructure is not partisan,” O’Toole stated. “I could not be more pleased with these two appointments. This is a good day for the region.”
Kean serves in the Republican majority and is a strong ally of Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who promised to back up Kean’s transportation priorities during the recent congressional race. Menendez is already on Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries’ leadership team as a regional whip for Mid-Atlantic states and has a seat on the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee.
These appointments remind me of when the late-Robert Roe, a North Jersey Democrat whom I served and worked with, led this House committee in the early 90s, ” O’Toole said. “Jersey legislators understand the unique challenges this region faces with its aging, legacy infrastructure that must be replaced and re-imagined for the 21st century.”
From the perspective of the Port Authority, O’Toole says, Kean and Menendez “know what the bi-state agency does for the greater New York-New Jersey region.”
By the way, O’Toole comes with a wish list that he subtly imparts to the New Jersey congressmen.
“On Day One, they will understand why projects like the new Midtown Bus Terminal, the redevelopment of Newark Liberty International Airport, and Gateway are vital to this region, and also because they will spur economic growth beyond our borders, are vital to both our regional and national economies,” he said.