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GOP Defies 'Hypocritical' COVID Policy At NJ State House, Dems 'Outraged'

NJ GOP Executive Director Tom Symanski and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin.
NJ GOP Executive Director Tom Symanski and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin. Photo Credit: Wikimedia commons user Lowlova/Twitter photos Symanski and Coughlin

Several Republican state lawmakers ignored a new COVID-19 proof of vaccine policy at the New Jersey State House walking into the state Assembly chambers, accusing the Democratic majority of hypocrisy for allegedly violating their own policy on Thursday, Dec. 2.

The new policy that went into effect Wednesday maintains that all people entering the Statehouse show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test.

When the Republican members of the Democratic-controlled state Legislature realized that state troopers asking for vaccination proof or a negative COVID-19 test wouldn't physically block them if they failed to show it, they kept on walking, multiple news outlets are reporting.

The troopers tried blocking the lawmakers walking to their seats sparking an approximately 15-minute standoff, but the legislators ultimately walked passed them to their seats in the Assembly chamber.

Video from an NJ.com reporter shows troopers talking to legislators at the chamber doors.

Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin said he was "outraged" by the incident.

 NJGOP Executive Director Tom Symanski released a following statement accusing Senate President Stephen Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin from barring republican lawmakers from entering the State Capitol:

In an exclusive statement to Daily Voice, State Sen. Holly Schepisi said she followed the protocols but still faced challenges, and called it all "hypocritical."

"Many of the people implementing these policies were in AC [Atlantic City] just a couple of weeks ago attending parties while maskless with hundreds of people and now they want to block legislators from entering the chambers to vote unless you submit to multiple checkpoints? It’s hypocritical at best.

Schepisi took issue with the fact that the policy was "amended unilaterally as we were in the car driving down to the State House. 

"I showed my vaccine card and ID to enter the building, had my temperature taken, wore a mask and than was told that we weren’t allowed into the room of the Senate Chambers to vote unless we showed it again."

Meanwhile, several other Republicans defied the policy altogether and were initially stopped by State Troopers.

“This is tyranny. They’re not letting the minority party vote,” said Assemblyman Erik Peterson, R-Hunterdon, according to NJ Advance Media.

The drama unfolded during one of the Legislature’s first voting sessions in the lame-duck period between last month’s elections and when the next legislative session begins in early January.

Top Republicans in both the Senate and Assembly filed a lawsuit in State Superior Court in an attempt to block the COVID-19 policy which a state commission approved in October.

The New Jersey GOP argued in the motion that the policy is an “unprecedented overreach by a state agency,” and violates the state Constitution. The court has not yet made a decision on the lawsuit.

New Jersey State Police did not immediately respond to Daily Voice's request for comment.

The New Jersey governor's office did not comment on the situation.

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