Gabrielle Gurley

Gabrielle Gurley is The American Prospect’s deputy editor. Her Twitter is @gurleygg, and her email is

Recent Articles

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)
(AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta) Trump speaks to mayors in the East Room of the White House on January 24, 2018. T he 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...

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
AP Photo/Elaine Thompson Construction cranes near Amazon's headquarters in Seattle's South Lake Union neighborhood T rying 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...

What Cities Can Learn from Houston Metro’s Hurricane Harvey Experience

The city’s bus and light rail network got through Harvey mostly unscathed because officials improvised—and learned lessons from previous storms.

(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
(AP Photo/David J. Phillip) A Metro train runs along Main Street in downtown Houston on September 5, 2017, in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. screen_shot_2017-07-19_at_4.28.52_pm.png I n early December, two groups of researchers from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the World Weather Attribution, a global network of scientists, independently concluded that climate change made Hurricane Harvey’s record-setting torrents far more damaging. Hurricanes usually weaken and sputter out after making landfall, but Harvey sat and spun, drenching the metro region with nearly 50 inches of rain over five days . The storm surge that pushed against the coastline slowed the outflows from rivers already swollen by rainfall farther inland, contributing to major flooding. Climate change finds public transit agencies hard-pressed to confront and adapt to extreme meteorological events. Most transit systems have long-established emergency procedures to handle hazards like hurricanes,...