Rodney Frelinghuysen, the chair of the House Appropriations Committee, says he will vote no on the American Health Care Act.
This is a major blow to the Republican party’s Obamacare replacement, and it comes just after the final AHCA vote is expected to be held in the House of Representatives. In a statement, Frelinghuysen said that the bill “is currently unacceptable as it would place significant new costs and barriers to care on my constituents in New Jersey. In addition to the loss of Medicaid coverage for so many people in my Medicaid-dependent state, the denial of essential health benefits in the individual market raise serious coverage and cost issues.”
Here’s what you need to know about Rodney Frelinghuysen.
1. He Has Served in the House of Representatives Since 1995
Rodney Frelinghuysen has been serving in the United States House of Representatives for the past 22 years.
Frelinghuysen ran during the 1994 election; he replaced Dean Gallo, the incumbent representative who announced he would not seek re-election due to medical concerns. Gallo died of prostate cancer that November.
Frelinghuysen has been easily re-elected 11 times, always receiving at least 58 percent of the vote. In the 2016 election, he faced off against Democrat Joseph Wenzel, but Wenzel only captured 38 percent of the vote.
2. He Reluctantly Supported Donald Trump During the 2016 Election
During the 2016 election, Rodney Frelinghuysen supported Donald Trump, but he was hardly enthusiastic about it.
“While I’m offended by a lot of things he said and continues to say, I think he would be a strong leader, especially in the areas that I work in, in national defense,” Frelinghuysen told the The Record in October 2016.
However, Frelinghuysen said at the time that he would keep the next president in check, no matter who it is.
“This is nothing to do with party,” he said. “This is about our nation and this is why, this damn election, we’ve got two of the most unbelievable people running here. But I want you to know I’m going to have — whoever wins — their back, and we’re going to make sure we have checks and balances.”
3. He Was Critical of the President’s Travel Ban & Budget Cuts
When Donald Trump signed his executive order in January suspending immigration from seven Muslim-majority nations, Frelinghuysen was critical.
However, that was mainly due to the implementation of the ban, which Frelinghuysen said was haphazard and confusing.
“This weekend’s confusion is an indication that the details of this executive order were not properly scrutinized,” Frelinghuysen said, according to NJ.com.
In addition, Frelinghuysen was critical of President Donald Trump’s budget, which included cuts to some key programs.
“I think foreign aid is pretty important myself, so I’d like to see what the president has to say,” Frelinghuysen said, according to Politico. “There are some pretty important programs that keep America open for business and that are vital to our national security. I think it would be good to look at entitlement programs. Those are the real cost drivers.”
Another issue that Rodney Frelinghuysen has broken with Donald Trump on is that he believes Donald Trump should release his tax returns.
“I feel very comfortable saying to you that the president should release his taxes as every president has done before,” Frelinghuysen said in February, according to North Jersey.
Frelinghuysen also says that he disagrees with Trump on Russia and has said of Trump, “I don’t think he chooses his words carefully,” according to NJ.com.
4. His Father Served in the House of Representatives & His Great-Great-Grandfather Served Under President Chester Arthur
Rodney’s father Peter Frelinghuysen, Jr. served as a U.S. representative representing New Jersey from 1953 through 1975
Peter is far from the only other politician in Frelinghuysen’s family, however. Rodney’s great-great-grandfather was Frederick Theodore Frelinghuysen, who served as secretary of state under President Chester Arthur. Frederick Theodore Frelinghuysen was also a senator from New Jersey.
In addition, Frelinghuysen’s great-great-great-great-grandfather was Frederick Frelinghuysen, a New Jersey senator who helped write the Constitution of New Jersey.
5. He is Married & Has Two Kids
Rodney Frelinghuysen has been married since 1980 to his wife, Virginia Robinson.
According to his website, Frelinghuysen has two daughters and two granddaughters. Virginia raised the children at their home in Harding Township while Frelinghuysen went to work in Congress, according to NJ Monthly.
“My job is to put a human face on government for these kids,” Rodney Frelinghuysen told NJ Monthly.
Of his daughters, Frelinghuysen told NJ Monthly that they are “politically astute, but smart enough not to run themselves.”