Rep. Frelinghuysen Announces Congressional Retirement; Activists Say He Was Dodged By Trump EPA Rollbacks

Media Contacts

Environment New Jersey

Trenton – This morning, Congressman Frelinghuysen announced that he would decline to run for re-election for Congress in New Jersey’s 11th Congressional District, and would serve out the remainder of his term through early 2019 before retiring. The Congressman, who has never faced a competitive election campaign, was likely facing a tight race in the fall of 2018. The Congressman, who is serving as the Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, increasingly was facing pressure from the House Republican leadership and the competing demands of his constituents.

The simmering debate over the federal budget best illuminated the challenge faced by Congressman Frelinghuysen. Despite efforts to lessen the impacts of President Trump’s budget, the Congressman failed to make a public statement opposing the cuts to the EPA budget. Last fall, Rep. Frelinghuysen voted for a budget with more than $500 million cuts to EPA that would hamper the agency’s enforcement activities, its research and ability to fund state environmental programs.

Environment New Jersey Director Doug O’Malley released the following statement in reaction to the news:

“Congressman Frelinghuysen’s retirement announcement this morning was surprising, but perhaps not shocking. Congressman Frelinghuysen entered Congress touting a moderate record, including on environmental protection, but found it increasingly difficult in the Trump era to take environmental stands. He has been largely silent on the impacts of cuts to the EPA budget over the last year.

Rep. Frelinghuysen increasingly was being put in an impossible position – listen to the demands of the House Republican leadership or listen to the demands of his constituents. Over the course of the summer and fall of 2017, now winter of 2018, his constituents demanded that Congressman Frelinghuysen stand up for the concerns of the district, especially on environmental protection. The Congressman said he didn’t support the cuts to the Superfund clean-up program because of the 10 Superfund sites in the district, but he did support more than $500 million cuts to the EPA.

We hope the Congressman can fully support full funding for EPA’s budget and prioritize environmental protection in his final months in office.”