Government Bytes


House Members‘ Agendas: Four Potentials in the New Jersey 2014 Senate Race

by Dan Barrett / /

The potential candidate field for New Jersey's opening Senate seat has thus far been hotly contested. Many in the state's political establishment have criticized Mayor Cory Booker (D) for leap-frogging other officials "waiting for their turn" to be sworn in as the next Senator from the Garden State. There are also four potential candidates currently serving in the U.S. House of Representatives that might run as well: Congressmen Rush Holt (D), Leonard Lance (R), Frank Pallone (D), and Jon Runyan (R). What can taxpayers expect from them?

For pundits and taxpayers alike, it's difficult to know what agendas the candidates would push for as Senators. Some look at the vision or platform to see what the candidates would bring to the state of New Jersey, while others look at the past actions of individuals. While NTUF will look at the former of these views in the future, I will use what's available through the Foundation's research to see where these four are coming from in terms of their past spending agendas. The BillTally project looks at the total changes in spending as proposed by Members of Congress and the Senate. Think of BillTally as the agenda that elected officials would enact if given the keys to the federal budget.

Congressman Rush Holt is serving in his eighth term in the House. Among other past assignments, he serves on the Committees on Education and the Workforce and on Natural Resources, where he is the Ranking Member on the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources. Of Representative Holt’s supported legislation and unlike his party colleague, his largest spending proposals have been instituting a single-payer health care system in the U.S., creating a Department of Peace, and improving elementary and middle school education. Representative Holt’s savings bills have called for some health care efficiencies and environmental legislation that would collect more royalties from energy producers.

For 13 terms, Congressman Frank Pallone has served in the House. He is currently the Ranking Member of the Health Subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee. Additionally, he is on the Natural Resources Committee. Some of the legislation that increase spending includes larger subsidies for government employees' health care and a call for the continuation of the Child Health Insurance Program. Like Congressman Holt, savings bills that Pallone has supported would also increase offsetting receipts from energy producers and reform how disabled individuals receive health care.

Proposed Spending Agendas of
Potential New Jersey Democratic Senate Candidates
(in millions of dollars)
Congressman Rush Holt
Short-Term Career Average
Congressman Frank Pallone
Short-Term Career Average
Note: NTUF has yet to finalize and release data for the entire 112th Congress. These figures are based on the BillTally First Session report.
Source: NTUF BillTally System

What both Democrats have supported in the past:

  • Crime control measures focused on high crime rate areas and gangs
  • Full funding of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
  • Increased spending associated with health care provided to veterans
  • Remove the concurrent payment limits for government employees receiving pension and Social Security payments

On the Republican side, both potential Senate candidates have had shorter federal careers and in turn less of a fiscal footprint on the budget.

Congressman Leonard Lance has been in Congress since 2009 and serves on the Energy and Commerce Committee and the Committee on Natural Resources. In the 111th Congress, he supported health care purchasing pools that would increase outlays and also the repeal of spending authority of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). More recently, Representative Lance supported legislation dealing with pediatric brain injuries and changing policies that states are required to follow under the Medicaid program.

Serving in his second term as a Representative, Congressman Jon Runyan is on the Armed Services, Natural Resources, and Veterans Affairs Committees. He has moved to reform medical liability law and to remove the spending cap on Medicare outpatient patients in rehabilitation.

Proposed Spending Agendas of
Potential New Jersey Republican Senate Candidates
(in millions of dollars)
Congressman Leonard Lance
Career Average
Congressman Jon Runyan
Note: NTUF has yet to finalize and release data for the entire 112th Congress. These figures are based on the BillTally First Session report.
Source: NTUF BillTally System

Overlapping Fiscal Policies Supported by Both Republicans:

  • Repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA)

At one point or another, all four of the candidates have supported removing the cap on veterans receiving concurrent payments, which would increase federal spending. Currently, former servicemembers can only get so much of their pension and disability benefits per month. The Congressmen who might enter into the New Jersey Senate race would allow veterans to get full payments from both benefits systems.