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Coronavirus Update: May 16, 2020

May 16, 2020
Washington Review

This week, the House of Representatives considered a fourth stimulus package, H.R. 6800, the Heroes Act. I pushed for the inclusion of critical policies in this legislation as well as future packages considered by Congress.

Last week, our community’s 2020 Census self-response rate rose 3 points to 48.1% of the 8th District. This is encouraging, but we still have plenty of work to do to catch up with New Jersey at 59.4% and the country at 57.7%. Millions of dollars in federal funding depend on each of our timely responses.  

If you have not already done so, take 10 minutes to respond online at 2020census.gov or by phone at 844-330-2020.

Heroes Act - On Friday, May 15, 2020, the House of Representatives considered H.R. 6800, the Heroes Act, to provide critical funding for our nation fighting COVID-19. This legislation passed by a vote of 208-199 and now awaits consideration before the Senate. I voted in favor of this package because it includes the following critical proposals:

  • $1,200 for every individual making less than $75,000 and $1,200 for up to 3 of their qualified dependents
  • $100 billion in emergency relief for renters
  • Expands eviction and foreclosure moratorium to all renters and homeowners nationwide
  • $75 billion for COVID-19 testing, contracting tracing, and mitigation – including establishing a national system to implement these efforts
  • $90 billion for a State Fiscal Stabilization Fund to fund remote education in our communities, including resources for technology, counseling, and mental health resources for students and staff
  • $5 billion for schools and libraries to provide teachers and students with internet services, wi-fi hotspots, and other technical needs
  • Temporary suspension of payments for all federal student loan borrowers
  • Up to $10,000 in hazard pay for essential workers making less than $200,000
  • 15% increase to maximum SNAP benefit, including expansion of authorized food items and billions of dollars for nutrition programs that serve adults, women, and children
  • Opens special enrollment period for coverage under Medicare and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) for individuals who have suddenly lost health insurance or are facing inadequate access
  • $15 billion for state Departments of Transporation (DOT) to cover revenue losses
  • Directs the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to create COVID-19 emergency standards for workplaces nationwide

Transportation – I supported a $49.95 billion infusion of federal funding to protect our state Departments of Transportation (DOT) in this crisis. Social distancing and stay at home orders have created significant losses in revenue for these vital public services. As America continues to adapt to COVID-19, our local economies will again rely on our state DOTs.

Public Lands and Conservation – According the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) provides our nation with 5.2 million jobs and accounts for 2.2% of our GDP. Congress must act fast to protect this sector and the public lands they care for. My colleagues and I requested congressional leadership pass $900 million in authorized funding for the LWCF to protect our national parks and public lands.

Household Necessities – I supported $4.3 billion in emergency funding the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to protect vulnerable families during this public health emergency. Nearly 11 million vulnerable households, including some with family members recently laid off, would be served by this critical funding. During this pandemic, all Americans need access to safe, stable housing and necessities.

Civil Rights – The tragic death of Ahmaud Arbery cannot escape justice. After video of the February 23, 2020 incident surfaced, it became apparent that prosecuting attorneys failed to take required action in the pursuit of justice. I joined my colleagues in requesting that the Department of Justice open a federal criminal civil rights investigation into Mr. Arbery’s death and work to deliver justice for every American.

Taiwan – I led a letter with Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH) and Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) urging the World Health Organization (WHO) to invite Taiwan as an observer to this year’s World Health Assembly. In the unprecedented times of the COVID-19 pandemic, our global community must be united in knowledge and response. WHO cannot afford to lose the demonstrated expertise of Taiwan in responding to this crisis.

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.