June 1, 2018

Two years ago, not far from here, at a small manufacturing business in Northvale, we set out on a journey together – with a clear destination in mind. Aside from my beautiful and brilliant wife Marla, my kids, Ellie and Ben, my mom and dad, and a few early supporters, most folks dismissed our chances. But many of you who are here today believed in our ideas and where we were headed.

We knew then that it was time for change here in New Jersey’s Fifth Congressional District. Change from Tea Party extremism that put partisan politics ahead of solving problems, for us, from the sensible center.

We also recognized that all sides — Democrats, Republicans, and Independents — could and should come together for a common purpose — to tackle our toughest challenges and seize upon our great opportunities here in northern Jersey. I’m grateful to be joined today by Democratic and Republican mayors, or, as I see at them – as Fifth District mayors.

Finally, we knew that what mattered most wasn’t what was best for Washington or a national party agenda —but, what was best for our state. True representation doesn’t come from Washington – we needed someone to fight for Jersey Values in Washington.

We believed in lower taxes and in better jobs … in less red tape and in better infrastructure … in top-notch schools and in clean drinking water … and in treating everyone with respect. We believed in safe communities … and in the critical fight against terror here and abroad. And we believed in standing by our seniors, veterans, and first responders.

And, we knew, that it was finally time to claw more of our federal tax dollars back home, instead of continuing to prop up those Moocher States who take so much more than they give.

Thanks to you, and to the tireless work and ingenuity of our mayors and state and local officials, of law enforcement and firefighters, and of the hard work of our citizens, we brought bold ideas and Jersey grit to Washington.

When I first asked for your vote, I committed to fight harder than anyone, working with both sides, for lower taxes and Jersey Values. Working together, as a bipartisan team, we’ve done more in two years than we’ve done around here in the last two decades.

But, let’s be honest, undoing decades of inaction, extremism, and partisan gridlock, doesn’t happen overnight.

So, this morning, I’m asking you to send me back, to continue the journey we all started together. Today, I’m proud and humbled to formally announce that I am seeking re-election to the United States Congress.

Two years ago, you entrusted me with this enormous responsibility – to live up to my commitment of putting progress ahead of party, to work to solve problems by finding common ground instead of extremism on either side, and to stand up for lower taxes and Jersey Values – that’s what I’ve done and that is what I will keep doing – because it’s what you deserve and why you sent me to Washington.

From the day I took my oath, I knew that the only way to achieve success would be if we did business differently – if we worked together and saw past the traditional lines that have long divided us. So, I took a page from President Kennedy who said, “Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer.”

In Washington, that’s meant working with all sides, as the Co-Chair of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus – twenty-four Democrats and twenty-four Republicans. We get together nearly every week to find common ground on even the toughest challenges, from health care and immigration reform to gun safety and infrastructure, from balanced budgets to regulatory relief.

I’ve found that if you actually take the time to talk and listen to one another, instead of just pointing fingers and yelling across the aisle, you can actually get things done. You may not get everything you want – but you can get 80 percent of it. It may seem novel to Washington, but that’s how we got things done when I worked at Ford and Microsoft, and it’s what happens in countless board rooms across the country every day. It’s why I was especially proud to get the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Spirit of Enterprise Award and to be named the most bipartisan
Freshman Democrat in Congress.

Here at home, doing business differently has meant working with every mayor and council and local official, in all seventy-nine towns, with Democrats and Republicans, to build stronger, safer, more affordable communities. And to always strive for what’s good for the people, not the party bosses in Washington.

Since taking office, I’ve made it a priority to be accessible and stay closely connected to our communities. My staff and I have visited every town in the District, holding what we call “Cups of Joe with Josh” Town Halls and mobile office hours … assisting and celebrating our veterans and first responders … visiting with businesses of all sizes … holding workshops and Mayors Summits … and, of course, attending my fair share of festivals, town picnics, and our July 4th celebrations in Hope and Liberty.

Criss-crossing the District, I’ve heard from entrepreneurs who tell me about their great ideas to grow and create even more jobs and how they want to stay in New Jersey – but high taxes and bureaucratic red tape make it hard to stay here and compete. I’ve heard from seniors who’ve had long, successful careers, but, as they approach retirement, are anxiously eager to know that their Social Security and Medicare that they paid into all of their lives will be there for them in their golden years.

I’ve heard from moms and dads who’ve lost a child, cut down in the prime of their lives, to opioid addition. And I’ve gotten to know good people like Jimmy and Barbara Drake who have faced the unthinkable tragedy of losing their son Jimmy, a New Milford resident, to the hatefilled actions of an ISIS-inspired Lone-Wolf terrorist last October. They are now honoring their son’s memory by fighting to prevent future attacks.

To me, it’s personal. When I think about these challenges, what people across our District are going through, I think about what kind of world my wife and I want for our children, for theirs, and for yours. How we make sure that our kids have the same shot at the American Dream that we did – with a good education, a good job, in a beautiful and safe community. And, of course, that they can do it all here, in Jersey. That’s been driving our agenda these last years.

Working together, we’ve gotten so much done that it’s hard to list it all off right now. Here are the highlights, but don’t worry, you can find a longer list on my website, because, as President Reagan famously said, “Trust but verify.”

As part of our Economic Growth Plan, we’ve worked overtime to help our businesses create jobs, grow the economy, and cut out-of-date regulations, including the Regulatory Improvement Act, I introduced, so we can help make operating a business here, and living in our state, more affordable. We can’t afford to be 49th or 50th on every business friendliness list. I’m working closely with businesses and our local colleges to help prepare students for tech and middle skills jobs.

Paramus Mayor LaBarbiera and Belvidere Mayor Kennedy, both here today, a Democrat, a Republican, are both tax cutters and have both clawed back thousands from Washington to help reduce the property tax burden their families face. And I applaud them for it, and praise Vernon Mayor Harry Shortway, who has worked overtime to bring new businesses of all sizes to his town, in a fiscally-responsible manner.

A key part of my Fixing the Fifth Infrastructure Repair Plan, we finally got the green light for the first dollars for the Gateway Tunnel between New York and New Jersey – and a special thanks to Senator Weinberg for her tireless work on this effort. And, we’re not going to let the Moocher States cut the funding. Earlier this year, I also introduced and passed a bipartisan bill to help improve rail safety, because we shouldn’t have to worry about riding a train. And we should make sure the trains passing through our towns are safe.

I’ve stood up to keep lead out of our water fountains and guns out of our schools … to ensure that only a woman and her doctor makes decisions about her health care, and that people can love and marry who they want. We’ve fought for our cops, firefighters and vets – because you should always get the backs of those who get yours. In fact, my first event was here in this firehouse, to say thank you. The first amendment I introduced and passed was to help post-9/11 vets get better care in the VA.

I also introduced legislation to find, stop, and kill terrorists at home and abroad, including seizing the assets of suspected lone wolf terrorists here at home. And I’ve worked to strengthen our essential bond with Israel, the key democracy in the region.

And my Seniors Security Strategy has been focused on helping seniors stay in their homes and get the health care they need, make prescription drugs more affordable, and protect Social Security and Medicare from privatization, so it’s there for them when they need it.

On all fronts, my office prides itself on answering the phone and taking on any issue to help, regardless of what it’s about. We’ve helped veterans secure a medal they earned, helped senior like Renee, with Social Security and other seniors stay in their homes. We’ve helped homeowners get power back after a storm, and even residents fill a pothole. Because, in my office, we may not actually fill the potholes – though I would if you needed me to — but we have built strong working relationships with the people who do.

That brings me to my larger point: If you do this job the right way, no issue is too big or too small. What matters is a simple test: is it good for northern New Jersey. Lower taxes and Jersey Values. And I’ll meet with anyone, anywhere if it’s good for us. I know sometimes that upsets some folks in my party. But I don’t believe in obstruction for the sake of it. And I believe you can fight for equal pay and clean water – and also lower taxes and balance budgets.

I believe partisanship can blind you and stifle change and progress. Earlier this week, I announced legislation to require three-point seat belts on school buses. We have them in mini vans, pickup trucks and every single car on the road, but Washington is so preoccupied with partisan fights, they can’t even move forward on something as common sense as safer school buses.

So, while governing from that reasonable middle isn’t always easy – especially now when the wings on both sides are so loud – it’s what built this great country. Our great leaders have always reached across the aisle to get things done. And, if you vote for me in November, I plan to continue to do so – building on the issues we’ve already made important progress on, the values that built America, and the bedrock belief that our differences have always been our greatest strength.

Because we live in the greatest country in the world, and I know that, working together, with your support, our best days will always be ahead.

Thank you, God bless you, and may God continue to bless the United States of America.