Coronavirus Update: June 1, 2020
Last week, I returned to Washington with my colleagues to vote on legislation impacting veterans and small businesses. We continued to advance policies addressing this unprecedented global pandemic and its economic impact.
The 8th District has raised its 2020 Census self-response rate to 50.4%. It is great to have seen the effort to reach our full representation over the past few weeks, but even more is needed. Check in with your friends, family, and neighbors this weekend and ask if they have filled out their census response.
If you or someone you know has not already done so, take 10 minutes to respond online at 2020census.gov or by phone at 844-330-2020.
Veterans – On Thursday, the House of Representatives unanimously passed legislation to raise benefits for veterans, dependents, surviving spouses, and children. H.R. 6168, the Veteran’s Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2020, introduced by Rep. Elaine Luria (D-VA), increases veteran’s disability benefits to match the cost-of-living increase for Social Security recipients. This legislation now awaits consideration before the Senate.
Small Business – Legislation also passed by the House on Thursday included technical fixed for the two most important economic response programs, the Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program. H.R. 6782, the TRUTH Act, introduced by Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN), increases the transparency of funding by requiring a publicly available list of recipients and loan amounts. H.R. 7010, the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility, also introduced by Rep. Phillips, expands the current limitation on nonpayroll expenses, increases the maturity period to 5 years, and defers payroll taxes. These bills now await consideration before the Senate.
Portal Bridge – On Friday, my colleagues and I were pleased to announce $91.5 million in Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) funding for the Portal Bridge in Kearny, NJ. Connecting transportation locally though NJ Transit and nationally through Amtrak, the Portal Bridge carries an average of 450 trains and 200,000 passengers each day. $36 million will specifically go to NJ Transit to reconstruct the Kearny electrical facility that powers the main line from north New Jersey into Penn Station New York.
State Department – I and my Democratic colleagues on the House Foreign Affairs Committee expressed our concern and shined a light on the circumstances surrounding President Trump’s recent dismissal of State Department Inspector General Steve Linick. Following a disturbing trend of silencing oversight bodies, Mr. Linick’s removal is particularly disturbing as it appears to be an act of retaliation for investigations being conducted by his office. We sent a letter to the Deputy Secretary of State asking for a reversal of the decision. The Foreign Affairs Committee has since launched an investigation into this matter to get the facts and discover the truth about Mr. Linick’s firing.
Testing – I joined some of my colleagues in the New Jersey delegation in asking the Trump Administration to expand coronavirus testing partnerships with New Jersey pharmacies. In a letter to U.S. Department Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Federal Emergency Management Agency Administer Peter Gaynor, we requested an extension of existing contracts and an increase in additional support for testing services.
Please know that I will continue working to get the 8th District the resources it needs. If you have questions or need assistance please call my Washington, D.C. office at (202)225-7919 and follow instructions to be connected to my staff or send an email to NJ8inquiries@mail.house.gov. Together we can get through this.