Police try to block NJ state GOP lawmakers from entering floor without proof of COVID vaccine

New Jersey Republican lawmakers defied a state mandate preventing them from entering the statehouse floor without showing proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test.
Image
New Jersey State Troopers, East Rutherford, New Jersey, Dec. 6, 2020
New Jersey State Troopers, Dec. 6, 2020
(Benjamin Solomon/Getty Images)

New Jersey State Troopers blocked a group of state Republican lawmakers who attempted to enter the Assembly floor in Trenton on Thursday without showing proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test, a policy implemented the previous day. 

After 15 minutes of tension, the GOP assembly members walked past the officers onto the floor.

Democrat state Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin called the Republicans' move a "colossal failure in security here at the Statehouse," according to NJ.com

Videos shared on social media depict a hectic scene.

A crowd gathered behind Republican Assembly members as they argued with troopers.

"I wish the Democrats would put this much time in going after the criminals in the state of New Jersey instead of law-abiding legislators trying to do our jobs," a voice from the crowd said. 

"I have the right to be here on the floor," one Assembly member said.

"This is tyranny," GOP Assemblyman Erik Peterson said. 

Eventually, the Republicans discovered that the troopers would not physically restrain them, and they walked into the chamber, New Jersey reporter Brent Johnson said.

The policy mandating proof of vaccination or negative test was approved in October. Republican state lawmakers filed a lawsuit to stop the policy. 

Democrat State Senate President Stephen Sweeney, who lost his seat last month to a Republican, said, "We could have cancelled the in-person voting sessions and done them virtual," according to NJ.com. “That’s not what we wanted to do. But the political theater is, like I said, it’s sad."

Media was also not allowed into the Assembly chamber, New Jersey reporter Daniel Munoz said. Even after showing their vaccine cards, the press was still denied. 

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) took note of the chaotic scene on Twitter, retweeting a video with the caption, "Clearly they learned nothing from the Nov NJ & VA elections. Democrats have used COVID to break American politics. Sadly, this is the logical next step."