It was supposed to be voted on yesterday, but it was pulled. Democrats pushing Assembly bill 5777, which sought to extend the emergency powers of Governor Phil Murphy well past the actual period of emergency pulled their bill at the last minute on Thursday.
Now, Murphy will have to decide whether or not to stay true to his promise of letting the COVID-19 state of emergency expire in June or extend his emergency powers for another 30 days.
The pandemic is waning in America and even more so in New Jersey. This is a direct result of former U.S. President Donald J. Trump’s Operation Warp Speed which allowed vaccine manufacturers to bring viable COVID-19 fighting vaccines to the market in record time. The Biden administration, which criticized Warp Speed during the 2020 campaign has upheld the Trump plan and continued vaccinating hundreds of millions of Americans.
Now, as the pandemic wanes, Governor Murphy is concerned that his influence and power might also dissipate. It’s bad timing for the Governor to lose his power. After all, he has an election to…win this year.
Pandemic powers are what made Phil Murphy one of the most powerful governors in America. His Democrat party sought to extend those powers through 2022, but now, they have cold feet.
Bill 5777 would have legislatively codified the Governor’s COVID-19 pandemic powers. Something Republicans and many in the state do not want. Murphy is holding the people of New Jersey hostage, declaring that if the New Jersey legislature does not extend his powers beyond the state of emergency, he will simply extend the state of emergency once again…and again. There’s no limit on how many times he can extend it.
Democrat Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin who proposed the bill to extend Murphy’s pandemic power said he’s going back to the drawing board after facing stiff opposition from Republicans and his own constituents.
“After speaking with legislators, advocates & others I’ve decided to postpone today’s vote on A-5777 to refine it so it is the fairest, most responsible bill possible. I am committed to ending the public health emergency. This is extremely important legislation we must get right,” the top-ranking Democrat in the New Jersey Assembly said.
New Jersey Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean said the Democrat bill is hardly a compromise and does not end anything, let alone the emergency declaration that continues at the hands of Governor Phil Murphy. Kean said Murphy Democrats did not consult any Republicans before pushing their extended power grab.
“It’s hard to call the bill a ‘compromise’ when Republicans were never consulted or invited to be part of any negotiation on ending the public health emergency,” said Kean. “Keeping emergency executive orders and unnecessary restrictions in place after the public health emergency has ended makes absolutely no sense. If asked, we would have told them it’s a bad deal.”