Dem on Party Switcher: 'Do You Know How We Would Have Handled This Back in Paterson?'

Rep. Bill Pascrell/ Getty Images
December 17, 2019

Rep. Bill Pascrell (D., N.J.) on Tuesday expressed frustration over fellow New Jersey Democrat Rep. Jeff Van Drew's switch to the Republican Party, telling a reporter, "Do you know how we would have handled this back in Paterson?" Paterson, N.J., a city in Pascrell's congressional district, is the congressman's hometown.

Scott Wong, a senior staff writer for the Hill, reported that Pascrell was "fired up" over Van Drew's decision to join the Republican Party rather than vote to impeach President Donald Trump. Following his remark, Pascrell quickly added that he was not advocating for violence against Van Drew. Pascrell's office did not respond to a request for comment from the Washington Free Beacon seeking to clarify the congressman's comment.

"This is an awful thing to do," Pascrell said of Van Drew's switch. "You make a commitment. That doesn't mean you've got to vote every way that the majority or the leadership asks you to vote. Certainly, it means you owe something to the organization who put you where you are."

Asked whether Van Drew would be welcome on the Democratic side of the House chamber, Pascrell said, "Not by me."

The New Jersey Democrat is not the only member of his party criticizing Van Drew's decision. Rep. Steve Cohen (Tenn.) said Van Drew is "making a serious mistake," and former Rep. Katie Hill (Calif.) said it's "incredibly disappointing," adding that she hopes he loses his reelection. Rep. Jerry Nadler (N.Y.) said on Sunday he believes Van Drew is switching parties in reaction to his polling numbers.

In response to Van Drew's decision, the Blue Dog Coalition revoked the congressman's membership in the centrist Democratic caucus.

Pascrell has been a longtime critic of Trump. He was one of at least three House Democrats who said, if given the opportunity, they would not shake hands with Trump before his address to a joint session of Congress.