Gabrielle Gurley

Gabrielle Gurley is The American Prospect’s deputy editor. Her email is ggurley@prospect.org.

Recent Articles

Not a Drill: Oil and Gas Exploration Dead in the Water for Governors

With most coastal chief executives ready to battle to protect their seashores and fisheries, the Trump administration storms into the country’s first energy-environmental showdown.

Scott Keeler/Tampa Bay Times via AP
The Trump administration’s draft five-year plan for leasing most continental shelf areas for oil and gas drilling met with equal parts of horror and consternation from most Republican and Democratic coastal governors. “Responsibly developing our energy resources on the Outer Continental Shelf in a safe and well-regulated way is important to our economy and energy security, and it provides billions of dollars to fund the conservation of our coastlines, public lands, and parks,” Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said in a January statement announcing the plan. (Note that safety has been the least of the administration’s concerns: Zinke had already rolled back Obama-era offshore drilling safety regulations in late December.) So fearful was Republican Governor Rick Scott of Florida of this plan that he plunged into the fray and cut his own deal with the Interior Department to protect the Sunshine State’s multibillion-dollar tourist industry. Scott extracted a...

Hudson River Tunnel Supporter Bites the Dust

Democrats do get excited over Republican retirements. As things stand now in New Jersey, full of people incensed by President Trump and recently departed GOP Governor Chris Christie, the 11th Congressional District, a longtime Republican stronghold, may turn blue in the fall.  

But for commuters and travelers wanting to get from New Jersey to New York, it’s tough to be completely enthused about the departure of Republican House Appropriations Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen, who this week announced he wouldn’t run for re-election in New Jersey’s 11th.

Even with more conservative Republicans accusing Frelinghuysen of flirting with earmarks, the 12-term Republican somehow managed to secure hundreds of millions in funding for the Gateway Program—the $30 billion infrastructure project to replace and upgrade the 19th century cross-Hudson antiques that currently connect the two states.

Doing away with earmarks seemed a good idea to Republicans and some pliable Democrats back in the sands of time (2010 to be exact). But living without earmarks—a convention that forced members of Congress to give in order to get—has pretty much turned the body into a hornets’ nest of aging Republicans refighting sectional battles: sticking it to the so-called coastal elites and steering funds that could build tunnels and bridges between New Jersey and New York (and more than a few other places) into tax cuts for their campaign donors.

Frelinghuysen may have violated Republican orthodoxy by working with Democrats to secure funding for the tunnels and voting against the GOP tax plan (which clearly penalized his New Jersey constituents). But one of the wealthiest men in Congress went wobbly on the Affordable Care Act, which he voted to repeal (despite his initial opposition to the repeal-and-replace effort); earned his constituents’ wrath for not holding town hall meetings; and sparked NJ 11th for Change, a fired-up grassroots movement dedicated to throwing him out of Congress.

In the end, he couldn’t deliver for the Hudson tunnels, either. At the end of December, Frelinghuysen got royally screwed over by the president, who elected not to support the Obama administration’s Gateway funding program after all. It will likely require a Democratic president and a Democratic Congress—which might well include a Democratic successor to Frelinghuysen—to come up with the funds for the tunnels.

The seat has been in the hands of Republican since 1985, and Hillary Clinton lost the district by only one percentage point in 2016. The 11th Congressional District, a wealthy, moderate, suburban area outside New York City, could be a good get for the blue team this fall: Already two Democratic women are in the race to succeed Frelinghuysen. 

Infrastructure, Immigration, and Trump’s War on Cities

The president’s putative concern for America’s decaying infrastructure takes a back seat to his anti-immigrant demagoguery and anti-urban policies.

(AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
The Master of Distraction has done it again. America’s trillion-dollar infrastructure crisis will never get the concentrated attention from the White House that it desperately requires, because the president of the United States enjoys poisoning the American body politic with divisive scapegoating. This week’s target: big-city mayors. When he was running for president, Trump inveighed against the country’s Third-World airports, rail, and other emblems of national decay. In his first year in the White House, however, he has dodged and weaved away from any decisive action on the issue. Infrastructure has been lost in the hostage negotiations that pass for legislative deliberations over immigration, taxes, and health care. State and local leaders have endured unprecedented procrastination from the administration as they try to read between the lines of memos and vague speeches. Trump avoids constructive engagement even when opportunity walks straight into the White...

Gateway To Nowhere on the Hudson

Donald Trump could well kill more funds for the construction of critical rail infrastructure projects—which doesn’t bode well for the Northeast.

AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews
On December 29, 2017, the Trump administration announced that it had no intention of upholding Obama administration’s unofficial agreement to pay 50 percent of the cost of the Gateway Program, a slew of infrastructure improvements, including a new cross-Hudson rail tunnel between New York and New Jersey. “We consider it unhelpful to reference a nonexistent 'agreement' rather than directly address the responsibility for funding a local project where 9 out of 10 passengers are local transit riders,” K. Jane Williams, the Federal Transit Department’s Deputy Administrator informed state and program officials. The news was as welcome as snakes let loose in Times Square ten minutes before midnight. Democratic New York Governor Andrew Cuomo stayed mum; a spokesman for departing New Jersey Governor Chris Christie remained “confident.” Which left Republican Representative Rodney Frelinghuysen to state the obvious: "There has long been agreement among federal...

Amazon, City Killer?

Amazon has whittled down the list of contenders for its second headquarters. Are those metropolitan areas ready for seismic socioeconomic upheaval?

AP Photo/Elaine Thompson
Trying to figure out where Amazon will set down roots or, depending on your perspective, spread its tentacles, is the newest capitalistic cage match. Nineteen American cities and one Canadian metro area, down from the original 238, now go into overdrive to secure what promises to one of the most transformative economic decisions in the world: a single $5 billion investment in a second headquarters that brings 50,000 high-tech workers and their families, plus thousands more jobs in associated sectors. This competition spurred the type of collaboration between private sector and political leaders that only develops when a trophy like an Amazon comes into view, according to Susan Wachter, a University of Pennsylvania Wharton School professor of real estate and finance and co-director of Penn Institute for Urban Research, which assembled a group of urban experts to weigh in on the Amazon competition. In a conversation with The American Prospect , Wachter uses the word “...

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