National Initiatives

Congressman Rothman and President Obama in 2007


Co-chairing the Obama Campaign

In July 2007, Congressman Rothman became the highest-ranking Democrat in New Jersey to support then U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-Ill.) for U.S. President. In a news release by Obama’s campaign in Chicago announcing Congressman Rothman’s endorsement and naming him Co-Chair of the Obama For President Northeast Campaign, Congressman Rothman declared that Obama was “the best candidate for President”. He stated: “I believe that having Barack Obama as our President will not only change how the world sees America, but how Americans see each other”.

In 2013, in a Record article describing his twenty-five year career in public office, Congressman Rothman noted that he believed “history will remember Obama not only for his deliberate and smart accomplishments as President, but for the permanent and positive effects the mere fact of his Presidency has had on the psyche and character of America”.

Voting “No” on Clinton Impeachment

Congressman Rothman considers testimony of witness before the House Judiciary Committee, October 1998

Congressman Rothman making argument in the House Judiciary Committee during the Clinton Impeachment Hearing, December 1998

Congressman Rothman making argument in the House Judiciary Committee during the Clinton Impeachment Hearing, December 1998

In December 1998, the House Judiciary Committee considered testimony and evidence that might form the basis for Articles of Impeachment against President Bill Clinton. On November 19, 1998, Independent Counsel Kenneth W. Starr testified before the Committee, and Congressman Rothman and other committee members cross-examined Mr. Starr about his written report and oral testimony. On December 11 and 12, 1998, the Committee considered whether, among other outcomes, to cite President Clinton for Censure or whether to approve Articles of Impeachment. Congressman Rothman voted for Censure and against Articles of Impeachment, arguing that while the President’s conduct was “irresponsible and reprehensible,” it did not rise to the level of an impeachable offense under the U.S. Constitution (“treason, bribery or other high crime and misdemeanor”).

Authoring and Enacting The Secure Our Schools Legislation and Funding

Congressman Rothman Announces His Secure Our Schools Act, 2000

Sarah Brady, wife of Reagan Press Secretary James Brady, who was shot in an assassination attempt on the President, and Chairwoman of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, Handgun Control, Inc., endorses Congressman Rothman for reelection, Hackensack, October 26, 2002

In the wake of the 1999 Columbine High School Massacre where 12 students and one teacher were killed, with 24 injured, by two senior student shooters, Congressman Rothman authored the Secure Our Schools Act to prevent weapons from entering schools and for greater security personnel and training.

In early 2000, just after the impeachment vote in the House Judiciary Committee in late 1989 where Rothman had voted “No” on impeaching President Clinton and Chairman Henry J. Hyde had voted “Yes”,  Rothman approached Chairman Hyde on the House Floor to co-sponsor Rothman’s Secure Our Schools bill. After review, Chairman Hyde thought it was a sensible approach and a measure worthy of support.

Under the bill, a federal matching grant program was established to provide $60 million per year to help local schools who request help in training personnel in security matters or in purchasing metal detectors, locks, security cameras, or other devices to prevent guns and other weapons from being taken into  schools. There was a provision for grants, if the school districts could not afford the matching requirement.

With bipartisan support, Rothman’s measure passed the Judiciary Committee, the U.S. House and Senate, and was signed into law by President Clinton.

Hundreds of millions of federal matching funds and grants, under the Secure Our Schools program, were provided to help secure our nation’s schools, including more than 160 New Jersey schools.


The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare)

The Record article on the conclusion of Congressman Rothman’s 10 Town Hall meetings on the Affordable Care Act, August 20, 2009

Cong. Rothman listens to constituents’ comments and questions regarding the initial drafts of the Affordable Health Care Act (Obamacare),
August 2009

Congressman Rothman was a strong advocate for a Public Option for the Affordable Care Act (ACA), often referred to as “Obamacare.” When that was no longer possible legislatively – due to the failure of support by the then Democratic U.S. Senate – Rothman worked with colleagues on both sides of the political aisle to craft a bill that would help provide health insurance for the millions of then uninsured Americans. In the end, though, no Republican would vote for the ACA.

As part of his efforts to learn the perspectives of everyone in his district, and beyond, Rothman read and listened to countless citizens, policy analysts and health care professionals’ points of view, to make sure he had done his homework. Then, just after the initial spate of policy proposals had been debated in Washington, D.C. and in the national media, as well as posted in full on the Internet, he held an unprecedented 10 Town Hall Meetings in his district, open to all, to hear more from those who wished to voice their opinions on the proposed but not then finalized version of the ACA. Thousands of district residents and others attended. Each session lasted no less than 2 1/2 hours, often stretching several hours longer.

Congressman Rothman marches with Speaker Nancy Pelosi at the Capitol on the passage of the Affordable Care Act, November 7, 2009

War in Iraq

On October 10, 2002, Congressman Rothman voted, along with U.S. Senator John Kerry and the majority of the U.S. Congress, to authorize the use of U.S. military force against Iraq necessary to defend the national security of the U.S. and to enforce all relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq.

At the time, Congressman Rothman stated that “Now, especially in the light and shadow of September 11, there is a new immediacy and power to Saddam Hussein’s longstanding and oft-stated threats against America. For years, Saddam Hussein has been a well-known patron and financier of some of the world’s most lethal anti-American terrorist and terrorist organizations. Now, al Qaeda has joined him….The thought of Saddam Hussein sending these same al-Qaeda ‘martyrs’ to America to spray chemical or biological poisons over America’s reservoirs in our most populated cities, is a thought so horrifying, yet so real a possibility, that I cannot in good conscience especially after the surprise attack of Sept. 11, permit this to happen”.

On December 7, 2005, Congressman Rothman signed on as a co-sponsor of Rep. Jack Murtha’s bill calling for the redeployment of all U.S. troops from Iraq. The bill stated in part that U.S. forces had become the target of the insurgency, 45 percent of the Iraqi people felt that the attacks on U.S. forces were justified, and recent polls in Iraq showed that 80% of the Iraqi people wanted the U.S. forces out of their country.

On February 22, 2006 in a press conference, Congressman Rothman became the first member of New Jersey’s congressional delegation to publicly call for a withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Iraq.

In an op-ed for The Record newspaper the next day, Congressman Rothman stated that “After September 11th, along with most members of Congress and the majority of the American people, I believed President Bush when he told us that terrorist acts by Saddam Hussein’s agents were ‘imminent,’ would involve ‘weapons of mass destruction,’ and would take place ‘on American soil’. I accepted his counsel that all of these terrible things would be prevented if we removed Saddam Hussein from power. Now we know that Saddam possessed no weapons of mass destruction and there was no such imminent threat. If I knew at the time of my vote what I know now, I would never have supported the President’s invasion of Iraq.”

Rothman continued: “Within six months, depending on the most current timetable for ensuring the safe withdrawal of our troops, most American forces now in Iraq should be redeployed to the United States. The remaining soldiers should be placed, as a quick-reaction force, in friendly neighboring countries and nearby U.S. bases. They will be in a position to thwart any dangerous foreign involvement or flare-ups of armed conflict that could seriously destabilize the fledgling Iraqi democracy. We can continue to assist the Iraqi people in fashioning a democratic governing authority under the rule of law, if they will allow us.”

On August 23, 2006, Congressman Rothman and Congressman Rush Holt led a public forum on the war in Iraq at the Edgewater Community Center in Edgewater, New Jersey, entitled “If Not Now, When?”. The event was sponsored by Bergen Grassroots and Hudson Democracy for America.

From 2006 through mid-February 2007, Congressman Rothman traveled to Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Turkey and Kuwait as one of 15 members of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. He met with foreign diplomats, intelligence officers, chief commanders and dozens of troops.

In a February 28, 2007 Record article entitled “Rothman: Get Troops Home In Six Months”, Congressman Rothman said his visit to the war-torn region confirmed his belief that U.S. troops should leave Iraq within the next six months. He was also quoted as saying that the United States “should be involved as advisors to the military in Iraq and […] be playing a very robust diplomatic role instead of remaining in combat.”

Luggage tag for the investigatory trip led by House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee Chair Norman D. Dicks (WA) to
Afghanistan, Pakistan and Germany, 2007

Preventing the Deportation of Malachy McAllister and his Family

Congressman Rothman at Washington D.C. press conference with Malachy McAllister, c. 2002

From 2003 until the end of his congressional career in 2013, Congressman Rothman played a critical role in preventing the deportation of Malachy McAllister and his family from the United States, by intervening with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and proposing House legislation on McAllister’s behalf.

In the 1980s, McAllister was convicted by a court in Northern Ireland of conspiring to murder a Royal Ulster Constabulary Officer. He served more than three years in a Northern Ireland prison and was released for time served by the British.

In 1988, masked gunmen sprayed his home in Northern Ireland with bullets as McAllister, his wife and four children were inside. They fled first to Canada and then to the U.S., arriving in Rutherford, New Jersey in 1996, where McAllister began working as a carpenter.

When U.S. authorities sought to deport him and his family, McAllister stated that he was a political prisoner in Northern Ireland and he had served his full prison time. He pointed out that he had lived and worked in the U.S. without incident and that any deportation to Northern Ireland would put his and his family’s lives in severe danger.

Supporting Tibetan Human Rights

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama greets Congressman Rothman at the U.S. Capitol to thank him for sponsoring the just-passed House Resolution in support of Tibet and Human Rights, September 10, 2003

In the face of the Chinese government’s assault on Tibetan Buddhism and the Dalai Lama’s religious authority, Congressman Rothman led the House of Representatives in expressing solidarity and support for the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan people in a bill which was passed unanimously by the House in 2003.

The Resolution declared that the visit of the Dalai Lama to the United States in September 2003 was warmly welcomed, that the Dalai Lama should be recognized and congratulated for his consistent efforts to promote dialogue to peacefully resolve the Tibetan issue and to increase the religious and cultural autonomy of the Tibetan people, and that all parties to the discussions should be encouraged by the Government of the United States to deepen contacts in order to achieve the aspirations of the people of Tibet for genuine autonomy and basic human rights.

On the day of the bill’s passage, the Dalai Lama met Congressman Rothman at the U.S. Capitol and personally thanked him for his efforts.

Voting “No” on Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP)

On October 3, 2008, Rothman voted against the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), stating that while the Bush administration was asking for $700 billion in relief for giant financial institutions, it had refused Rothman’s and other Members’ requests that those institutions be required to allow the modification of principal and interest obligations to underwater mortgage-holding homeowners that would prevent them from being foreclosed upon and losing their homes. He also criticized the bill for failing to make the regulatory changes to make the banks no longer “too big to fail”.

Co-Sponsor of Constitutional Amendment to limit Campaign Contributions & Expenditures

In March 1997, just two months after being sworn in as a Congressman, Rothman became one of only 15 co-sponsors (including Rep. Bernie Sanders of Vermont) of H.J.Res 17 (105th Congress), a bill to amend the U.S. Constitution to allow Congress and each State to set reasonable limits on campaign donations and expenditures made in support of or in opposition to candidates for Federal office.

Fighting for other legislative priorities

Throughout his congressional career, Congressman Rothman fought strongly, effectively and consistently for many other legislative priorities including clean air and water, smart land & energy use and conservation, a woman’s right to choose, gender equality, reasonable gun control laws, tax reform, comprehensive immigration reform, and the humane treatment of animals.

Voicing strong support for U.S.-Israel relationship and security

For six years, Congressman Rothman served simultaneously as a member of the powerful House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense and the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations and State. He was the second U.S. Congressman, after Charlie Wilson (D-Tx), to do so. Given his historic committee and sub-committee assignments, Congressman Rothman had a unique role in not only protecting the direct national security interests of the United States, but in supporting U.S. Allies.

Among the many U.S. allies and causes he supported, he greatly facilitated the important U.S.-Israel Relationship. Congressman Rothman stated many times that “the national security of the United States is directly affected by the national security of the State of Israel”.

Congressman Rothman on the Floor of the U.S. House of Representatives in 2001 giving a powerful 15-minute history of the modern Middle East

He was regarded as a key pro-Israel voice on Capitol Hill.

On December 7, 2005, the U.S. House of Representatives passed Congressman Rothman’s Resolution 438 which urged members of the United Nations to stop supporting words and deeds that unfairly castigated Israel; and to promote within the U.N.’s system a more balanced and constructive approach to resolving conflict in the Middle East.

From 2007 until 2013, Congressman Rothman played an important role in obtaining congressional funding for Israel’s Iron Dome defensive missile system to protect Israeli civilian populations from thousands of rocket and missile attacks coming from U.S.-acknowledged terrorists like Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Hezbollah in Lebanon, as well as to provide the U.S. military with that technology.

Congressman Rothman meets with Chief of Israel Defense Forces Benny Ganz and Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren, at The Capitol, 2012

Lieutenant General Patrick O’Reilly, Director of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency; Congressman Steven R. Rothman, Defense Appropriations Subcommittee Member;and Arieh Herzog, Director of Israel Missile Defense meeting in the Congressman’s D.C. office to discuss U.S.-Israel missile defense cooperation, March 2010

U.S. funding to support Israel’s Iron Dome was first provided by the U.S. Congress and signed into U.S. law in 2010.

Also, given the thousands of longer range missiles in Syria and Lebanon, as well as the threat of even more destructive Iranian ballistic missiles which might someday have nuclear warheads threatening Israel and her people, Congressman Rothman worked with his congressional colleagues and the White House in supporting several joint U.S.-Israeli missile defense systems. In particular, Rothman was instrumental in obtaining U.S. funding for David’s Sling (also known as The Magic Wand), Arrow 2 and Arrow 3. Arrow 3, the exo-atmosphere, ballistic missile defense system, has been continually tested, with a successful test performed by the U.S. Missile Defense Agency and Israel Missile Defense Organization of the Directorate of Defense Research and Development, in Alaska in July 2019.

Congressman Rothman’s efforts were widely applauded in the American pro-Israel community and by U.S. and Israeli military, diplomatic and elected leaders.

In 2012, at the end of Congressman Rothman’s 16 year tenure in Congress, Israel’s Defense Minister (former Israeli Prime Minister) Ehud Barak wrote to Rothman: “I wish to express my sincere gratitude to you for your unparalleled work in Congress over the past sixteen years to promote the U.S.-Israel relationship and military ties. You are a true champion of the cause, fighting for Iron Dome, David’s Sling, Arrow-2 and Arrow-3, all the while understanding the importance of these systems to both the people of Israel and the United States. The citizens of Israel are safer from rocket fire today in no small part because of you and your efforts to promote U.S.-Israel joint missile defense cooperation.”

Also that year, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote Rothman:  “In all your years of congressional service, you have been a true advocate of Israel’s right to security and self-defense.  You have played a major role in enlisting congressional support for defense systems that directly affect Israel’s national security, and your tireless efforts to promote legislation aimed at derailing Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons have been admirable.”

Israel’s Former Ambassador to the U.S., Dr. Michael B. Oren wrote of Rothman: “As a Member of Congress during my tenure as ambassador to the United States (2009-2013), Steve proved to be an unswerving supporter of Israel and a leader of all efforts to strengthen its security. He was instrumental in approving vital aid for our missile defense systems–Iron Dome, David’s Sling, and Arrow 2 and 3–as well as legislation aimed at protecting Israel from delegitimization. On a personal level, Steve was always available for advice and guidance during a challenging period in U.S.-Israel relations. He was reliable, courageous, and sage.”

Successfully Fighting Against the Bush Administration Efforts to Privatize Social Security and Postal Worker Jobs

Rothman speaks to his constituents about the dangers of privatizing Social Security, 2005

Rothman opposes privatizing U.S. postal workers jobs, 2007

In 2005, President George W. Bush sought to privatize Social Security. Also, in 2007, the Bush Administration proposed the idea of privatizing U.S. Postal Worker jobs. Congressman Rothman strongly and publicly opposed these efforts. He spoke against them at dozens of Town Hall Meetings, in U.S. House Floor debates, on picket lines and in countless press conferences and rallies. Ultimately, neither of these Bush initiatives was passed into law.