North Jersey’s delegation in the House of Representatives voted to pass bipartisan legislation to address the coronavirus crisis on March 14.
Among the features included in The Families First Coronavirus Response Act are providing coronavirus testing free of charge to patients; paid emergency leave with two weeks of paid sick leave; up to three months of paid family and medical leave; enhanced unemployment insurance to protect furloughed workers; strengthened food security programs for children, students, seniors and food banks; and increased federal investment to help state and local governments and health systems respond to the virus.
Reps. Josh Gottheimer, Bill Pascrell, Donald Payne, Mikie Sherrill and Albio Sires all voted for the bill.
Bill Helps Communities
“The coronavirus has officially reached a pandemic level, with a rising number of cases in North Jersey, and deepening impacts on workers and families in communities throughout our state and across our country,” said Gottheimer. “The House passed bipartisan legislation so our communities, hospitals, and all levels of government can continue combating the outbreak of the coronavirus, take care of patients, help stop the spread of the virus and ensure our country is protected from this public health emergency.
The spending bill will give families flexibility to stay home from work when they are sick and food security for their children, according to Rep. Sherrill. The bill follows the $8.3 billion emergency supplemental funding package providing funding for public health efforts, including additional funding to bolster the CDC’s response efforts, and provide disaster loans for small businesses hurt by the spread of the virus.
Urge Senate Passing
“Our communities face unprecedented disruptions in their lives…I will continue to work with my colleagues to confront this public health emergency, protect our economy, and make sure New Jersey has the resources it needs,” said Sherrill. “I urge the Senate to pass this bipartisan legislation.”
Sires noted the bill strengthened nutrition security initiatives, including Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), student meals, seniors’ nutrition and food banks. More than 682,000 New Jersey children rely on SNAP for free or reduced-price school meals for their food security.
“The rampant spread of coronavirus jeopardizes the health and wellbeing of millions of Americans and their families,” said Sires. “Reports of health care systems being overwhelmed, individuals being unable to access testing, and families having to make tough decisions between their health and their financial wellbeing are simply unacceptable.”
New Jersey will receive approximately $810 million in additional Medicaid funding to New Jersey, something Rep. Payne said the state will need to help those who become sick.
“We need to help Americans because this is an economic crisis as well as a national health crisis,” said Payne. “As the disease affects more of our citizens, people are losing their jobs and having trouble paying bills. It will become worse if we fail to act. It is good for America and New Jersey.”
The bill now awaits action in the Senate.