Guest Post by Anya Landau French: Senator Menendez to Turn Down NJ Transportation Funding (Next Year)


Photo credit: Carly/Hoboken Now
Anya Landau French is director of research for the New America Foundation/U.S.-Cuba Policy Initiative and contributes regularly to the Havana Note.
On Friday afternoon, right before he voted to send the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2010 to President Obama’s desk, Senator Bob Menendez, a Cuban American from New Jersey, threatened to vote against it because of a provision that would facilitate U.S. food sales to Cuba:
. . . [T]he process by which these changes have been forced upon this body is so deeply offensive to me, and so deeply undemocratic, that I have no intention – no intention – of continuing to vote for omnibus appropriations bills if they are going to jam foreign policy changes down throats of members, in what some consider “must pass” bills.”
Senator Menendez wanted to be clear, so he reiterated the threat and put his colleagues “on notice” that (though he was about to vote in favor of this particular bill), in the future, if any of them add Cuba provisions, count him out.
What’s all the fuss about? I’ll just warn you now, it’s much ado about nothing.

The Senator from New Jersey’s beef is with a provision in the bill – which appropriators first passed and posted for public viewing online July 9 of this year – that would clarify that when paying for U.S. food exports, Cuba must pay cash prior to taking title or control of the goods.
You see, despite our near total embargo on Cuba, Congress did make an exception in 2000, and authorized cash in advance food sales to Cuba. And, though Fidel Castro initially balked at the stringent terms of sale (“not one grain!“), he later changed his mind. And that is how the United States became Cuba’s 5th largest trading partner (how’s that for irony?).
But in 2005, over objections from farmstate lawmakers, the Bush Administration narrowed the definition of “cash in advance” for these sales (to require Cuban payment before shipment instead of before delivery, which, buyers and sellers warned would lead to unrelated legal tangles, and make the U.S. a less reliable supplier). As a result, U.S. agriculture exports to Cuba suffered. Since then, farmbelt lawmakers have been pushing to recover and increase U.S. market share in Cuba – all the more crucial this year, with U.S. farm income down by 38%.
Senator Menendez asserts that allowing Cuba to pay cash in advance of delivery instead of shipment amounts to a subsidy to the Cuban government, implying it offers credit on which Cuba will surely default. But it is quite the opposite, since the law still clearly prohibits any U.S. credit for Cuba. The senator predicts that Cuba won’t pay U.S. farmers for their product when it is rescheduling debts with other creditors, but so far, Cuba has never missed a payment to U.S. exporters.
But let’s leave aside questions of accuracy. Query instead, is Senator Menendez truly serious? If he was so worried about the democratic process, why not insist on a vote to strip the offending provision? (Unless you know and won’t like the outcome?)
Threatening to vote against millions in critical funding for your homestate every time Congress includes Cuba policy reforms on a must-pass bill is a mighty big – and lopsided – risk to take. Especially when your state’s list of projects in the bill-you’re-about-to-vote-against looks like this:
Transportation — $212,105,000
• $200,000,000 for construction of the ARC Tunnel
• $800,000 for Passaic and Bergen County Intermodal Facility improvements
• $974,000 to Bergen County for a Specialized Bus Transit program
• $400,000 for the planning and design of the Hudson Bergen Light Rail Jersey City Bayfront Extension
• $300,000 for a traffic signal improvement project in Union City
• $1,948,000 for improvements to I-280 interchange in Harrison
• $1,948,000 for rail and station improvements at Newark Penn Station
• $487,000 to Newark for the North Broad Street Redevelopment project to include parking facilities, road improvements, bike lane developments, and streetscape improvements near the Broad Street Station and Military Park
• $1,250,000 for the Route 22 Sustainable Corridor Plan that would redefine an 8-mile section of Route 22 in Bridgewater Township and Somerville Borough from a high-speed arterial highway into a suburban boulevard design
• $300,000 to North Plainfield for downtown pedestrian and streetscape improvements
• $500,000 for construction of high-level platforms at the South Amboy Intermodal Station
• $974,000 for the Route 27 Renaissance 2000 Project to address long standing congestion and safety problems and support revitalization efforts of Franklin Township, New Brunswick and North Brunswick
• $500,000 for the construction of improvements at the intersection of Route 72 and East Road in Stafford Township
• $487,000 for the design and construction of improvements to a key North Camden gateway: 7th Street from Linden Street to Elm Street
• $487,000 for land planning, design, environmental remediation, and park and infrastructure development in the North Camden and Cramer Hill communities
• $750,000 for the rehabilitation of the Short Line Rail in Salem County
Economic Development and Low-Income Service Improvement — $2,724,800
• $779,200 for renovations and improvements at Eva’s Village Kitchen and Recovery center in Paterson
• $400,000 for the remediation of a brownfield in Jersey City
• $194,800 for renovations of a senior citizen center in East Orange
• $400,000 for renovations at the Friendly Fuld Early Childhood Facility in Newark
• $250,000 to stabilize and rehabilitate the eroding banks of the Irvington Branch of Lightning Brook in Union Township
• $200,000 to 180 Turning Lives Around to construct and equip a domestic violence shelter in Monmouth County
• $250,000 for area renovation and remediation of the Bordentown Township Light Rail Transit Center
• $250,000 for the rehabilitation of buildings as part of the ongoing downtown revitalization in Hammonton
Job Training– $375,000
• $275,000 to Beth Medrash Govoha to expand a job training initiative
• $100,000 to Covenant House New Jersey for education and job training services for formerly homeless youth in Covenant House residential centers
Health Care Facilities and Services– $8,600,000
• $750,000 to Atlantic Health – Morristown Memorial Hospital for emergency department expansion and renovation
• $200,000 to AtlantiCare Special Care Center for facilities and equipment
• $100,000 to Autism New Jersey for a patient navigator project that will develop a system to assist individuals, families, and professionals impacted by autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) navigate the service delivery system in New Jersey
• $250,000 to the Bacharach Institute for Rehabilitation for facility improvements and equipment for the Sleep Disorders Center
• $300,000 to Bergen Regional Medical Center for facility renovations and equipment
• $500,000 to Community Medical Center for facility improvements and equipment at the J. Phillip Citta Regional Cancer Center
• $200,000 to Cooper Health System for emergency department expansion at Cooper University Hospital
• $125,000 to Essex County for a diabetes prevention and management program for severely mentally ill adults
• $100,000 to the Friends of the Congressional Glaucoma Caucus Foundation for the New Jersey Mobile Eye Care Screening Initiative
• $500,000 to Holy Name Hospital for facility improvements and equipment for the Holy Name Hospice Care Program
• $300,000 to JFK Medical Center for a digital mammography system at the JFK Breast Care Center
• $100,000 to Meridian Health for emergency department renovations and expansion at the Ocean Medical Center
• $100,000 to the Metropolitan Family Health Network for equipment upgrades at the Breast Imaging Mammography Center
• $500,000 to Monmouth Medical Center for expansion to the emergency department
• $300,000 to Newton Memorial Hospital for facility improvements and equipment
• $350,000 to Palisades Medical Center for emergency department renovations
• $300,000 to Saint Barnabas Health Care System Foundation for health information technology
• $600,000 to Saint Clare’s Health System for facility improvements and equipment for Emergency Medical Services (EMS)
• $500,000 to Shore Memorial Hospital for facility improvements and equipment for the hospital’s Surgical Pavilion
• $600,000 to Somerset Medical Center for an electronic medical records initiative
• $350,000 to St. Francis Medical Center for facility improvements and equipment for the emergency department
• $950,000 to St. Mary’s Hospital for facility improvements and equipment
• $400,000 to Trinitas Health Foundation for facility improvements and equipment at the Trinitas Center for Regional Education
• $225,000 to Zufall Health Center for facility improvements and equipment for the Hunterdon Family Dental Center
Social Services — $2,087,000
• $225,000 to the Jewish Family Service of Somerset, Hunterdon and Warren Counties for the Somerville Aging-In-Place program
• $300,000 to Jewish Family Service of Central New Jersey for their Aging-In-Place program
• $150,000 to SingleStop USA for the SingleStop facility in Essex County which provides tax credit access, legal assistance and financial counseling services
• $312,000 to Somerset Hills School District Cultural Tolerance Education Initiative
• $400,000 to the Somerset Home for Temporarily Displaced Children’s Bridge House transitional and permanent housing program
• $200,000 to UJA Federation of Northern NJ for their Aging-In-Place Demonstration Project
• $100,000 to United Jewish Communities for MetroWest New Jersey for their Independent Aging Initiative.
• $400,000 for Wynona’s House for a child sexual abuse intervention program
Education — $3,050,000
• $300,000 to the Bloomfield Board of Education to help provide alternative education for academically-challenged students
• $550,000 to Caldwell College for equipment and curriculum development for Caldwell’s Autism Clinic program
• $500,000 to Farleigh Dickinson University for curriculum development and equipment for the Latino Education program
• $300,000 to the Morris Museum for their science education program
• $100,000 to the New Jersey State Library Talking Book and Braille Center for equipment for its awareness campaign
• $300,000 to St. Peter’s College for equipment and technology
• $400,000 to Union County College for curriculum development in clean energy jobs education and training
• $100,000 to Voices of September 11th for a 9/11 living memorial digital archive
• $350,000 to Warren County Community College Foundation for facility improvements and equipment for its Health Education and Professional Development Center
• $150,000 to the West New York Board of Education Alternative Fuel Education Program
Law Enforcement Technology — $7,950,000
• $1,000,000 to the New Jersey Institute of Technology to for the ongoing development of technology to safeguard handguns from unauthorized use based on biometric identification
• $240,000 to Pompton Lakes for police and emergency services interoperability equipment upgrades
• $900,000 to Bergen County for a county-wide public safety radio communication system
• $200,000 to Hackensack for police and emergency services communication upgrades
• $500,000 to East Rutherford for police communication infrastructure
• $500,000 to Newark for interoperability equipment at the Emergency Operations Center
• $400,000 to Newark for an initiative to assist returning offenders to productively integrate back into society
• $450,000 to Orange for public safety information technology
• $200,000 to Irvington Police Department for a Computer Aided Dispatch/Record Management System (CAD/RMS)
• $650,000 to Union City for law enforcement technology
• $100,000 to Bayonne for law enforcement technology
• $1,000,000 to Summit for a regional police and emergency management interoperable communication network and facility
• $500,000 to Woodbridge for an interoperable law enforcement trucked digital radio system
• $610,000 to Trenton for a gunshot location system, radio communication upgrade, and a youth violence and gang prevention program
• $200,000 to the City of Camden for equipment at the Camden Police Mobile Communication Center
• $500,000 to Camden County for a county-wide interoperability system
Mentoring/Youth Development — $4,500,000
• $200,000 to Ohel Children’s Home and Family Services in Teaneck for a child abuse prevention program
• $250,000 to All Saints Community Service and Development Corporation Jubilee Center in Hoboken to support and expand programs for children touched by violence.
• $300,000 to Jersey City Housing Authority for a drug elimination program
• $250,000 to Housing Authority of Plainfield for an after school and summer gang prevention initiative
• $500,000 to Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office for a SPEAK UP Hotline Outreach and Public Education program. SPEAK UP is a national hotline (1-866-SPEAK-UP) for students to anonymously report weapon-related threats in their schools and communities
• $400,000 to the USA Swimming Foundation for a Regional Youth Development program in Asbury, Bayonne, Jersey City, Newark and Plainfield
• $500,000 to Community YMCA in Middletown for a gang prevention program
• $500,000 to 180 Turning Lives Around in Hazlet for a child and teen violence reduction and treatment program
• $400,000 for Big Brothers Big Sisters Foundation of New Jersey for a mentoring initiative
• $350,000 to D.A.R.E. New Jersey for a middle school drug prevention and safety program
• $100,000 to the New Jersey Department of Children and Families for child forensic interviews at child advocacy centers throughout the state
• $250,000 for the Brick Township Police Athletic League after-school and kids camp program
• $200,000 to Generations Incorporated in Lindenwold for a youth mentoring program
• $50,000 to Crossroads Program in Willingboro for a youth gang prevention program
• $250,000 to KidsPeace for a therapeutic foster care program in Cumberland County
Science, Environment — $1,450,000
• $250,000 to Monmouth University for the Resilient Urban Community and Ecosystem (RESCUE) Initiative to support the ongoing integration of water quality monitoring with other observations to provide relevant data that can be used by state and local environmental officials, water resource and water utility managers, recreational boaters, fishers and swimmers, coastal and estuarine managers and watershed managers
• $200,000 to the Delaware River Basin Commission for an enhanced flood warning system along the Delaware River
• $1,000,000 to the Partnership for Mid-Atlantic Fisheries for a multi-state multi-institutional partnership that will use academic, recreational and commercial fisheries resources to develop targeted science initiatives to improve the assessment and management process
• $9,700,000 for McGuire Air Force Base, New Jersey Air National Guard 108th Refueling Wing for facility improvements to the base civil engineering complex
• $7,900,000 for McGuire Air Force Base, United States Air Force for construction of a new base operations and command post facility
• $10,200,000 for Picatinny Arsenal for the second phase of the construction of a ballistic experimentation facility that will provide the capability to prepare weapons and artillery
• $205,000 to Essex County to create a Resource Center for Small, Women and Minority Owned Businesses
• $100,000 to the New Jersey Regional Office of the Cuban American National Council in Union City to provide financial education services to low and moderate income residents of Hudson County and the surrounding area
• $100,000 to the NJ Department of Community Affairs, Division on Women to help women with minimal business experience become successful entrepreneurs.
• $100,000 to Project Ezrah Needs in Englewood to provide financial counseling and employment services
• $271,050 to Rutgers University in Newark for the New Jersey Urban Entrepreneurship Development program that will help to increase the level of entrepreneurship and economic development in urban areas of NJ
• $250,000 to Woodbridge Township to redevelop a brownfields site on Pennval Road and establish a Green Technology Incubator
— Anya Landau French


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