Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Passaic Valley Students Put Their Congressman to a Test

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Passaic Valley Students Put Their Congressman to a Test

Article excerpt

LITTLE FALLS - Several dozen high school students grilled one of New Jersey's members of Congress on Monday, getting him to disown a wing of his own Republican Party and prodding him relentlessly on income inequality.

Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, whose redrawn district now includes Little Falls, was full of praise for his interrogators, even if at least one of them was less impressed with him.

Students at Passaic Valley High School quizzed the 18-year veteran of Congress on other issues, such as public disclosure of government spying initiatives and apparent contradictions in his beliefs about the role of government in an hourlong exchange Monday morning.

After questions about the partisan gridlock in Congress and leaving the nation's fiscal issues for another day, he said the government shutdown damaged the economy but hopefully taught a lesson to the 45 Republicans who backed the tactic.

"We will not repeat the idiocy and unhappiness of shutting down the government," said Frelinghuysen, criticizing the Tea Party wing of his party for forcing the shutdown.

The congressman also detailed his efforts to fund New Jersey's recovery from Superstorm Sandy, describing a regional rift in Congress. While Governor Christie urged House Speaker John Boehner to "get his damn act together," Frelinghuysen said he was "the guy on the house floor that carried the ball" for the tri-state area. But he met opposition from some representatives whom "we helped during Katrina," he said.

Frelinghuysen's 11th District covers Morris County and parts of Essex, Sussex and Passaic counties, including Bloomingdale, Little Falls, North Haledon, Pompton Lakes, Totowa, Wanaque, Wayne and Woodland Park. Passaic Valley draws students from Little Falls, Totowa and Woodland Park.

History teachers Thomas Deeney and Robert Block brought together about 60 of their history and government students in the high school auditorium for the congressman's talk. …

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