Override of Christie Veto on Port Authority Reform Bill Fails by Two Votes

By Michael Aaron NJTV

Senate Democrats needed 27 votes, including three Republicans, to override Gov. Chris Christie.

They got all 24 Democrats but only one Republican, Sen. Michael Doherty.

The final vote was 25-14.

Sen. Bob Gordon led the Democrats’ effort to override Christie.

“This legislation has been approved in four chambers and five legislative committees in two states without one dissenting vote,” he said.

The Port Authority reform bill passed both houses in Trenton and Albany unanimously last year.

But Govs. Christie and Andrew Cuomo vetoed it in December.

The bill aims at improving accountability, transparency and ethics at the Port Authority in the wake of the George Washington Bridge scandal.

Two weeks ago, Senate Republican leader Tom Kean came up with an alternative bill, which gave his members something else to support.

He says the original bill can’t become law.

“The bill is stalled in New York. For weeks everybody has been saying it’s gonna pass the Assembly but it has not,” Kean said.

Gordon says Kean’s bill is weaker.

Kean says his is the only one that changes the leadership structure at the Port Authority and the only one that can become law.

“Let’s focus first and foremost on the reforms that do have a chance to pass all four chambers and be signed by both governors,” Kean said.

Veteran Republican Joe Kyrillos supported his party leader.

“I’m dying to press that vote to override. I thought about it very, very hard. But I know for a couple of reasons we need a consensus bill that will not only pass this Senate and the house across the way but the houses in the other state, as well,” he said.

Democrats defended the original bill and chided Republicans for failing to override a Christie veto of a bill they once supported for the 49th time.

“This is not about a gold star for the governor, that he’s never been overridden. What is that about? This is about the substance of this bill. This is a good bill. It is an excellent bill. It has had a hearing here and in New York. Let’s get to it,” said Sen. Loretta Weinberg.

“I’m sure you know Andrew Cuomo better than I know him. I only know him from reading about him, I’ve never met him but I can’t believe he would sign the exact same measure that he once vetoed outright,” said Kyrillos.

“I think the override should have taken place immediately back in December. By wasting three precious months gave many an opportunity to come up with a weaken version of the bill and that to me is their defense and not giving the override,” said Assemblywoman Valerie Huttle.

Democrats say the Kean bill is just political cover for Republicans. Republicans say the Democrats knew the override would fail and were just trying to score a political point. Port Authority reform will have to happen some other way.