Coronavirus Update: May 8, 2020
This week, I continued to work on the comprehensive elements of our government’s coronavirus response. The following is an overview of policies my colleagues and I support as Congress works on the next coronavirus legislative package.
Additionally, the 8th District remains behind the state and national self-response rates for the 2020 Census. As of this week, our community is only at 45% completion, trailing New Jersey at 56.3% and the country at 54.6%. To receive the millions of dollars in annual funding our community deserves, we all must do our part and be counted.
If you have not already done so, take 10 minutes to respond online at 2020census.gov or by phone at 844-330-2020.
Housing – This week, I joined two bills as an original cosponsor addressing the housing crisis Americans are experiencing as a result of COVID-19.
First, I cosponsored a bill to enact $100 billion in emergency rental assistance. The Emergency Rental Assistance and Rental Market Stabilization Act, introduced by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) and Rep. Danny Heck (D-WA), would provide funding for qualified renters to keep stable housing through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Second, I cosponsored the COVID-19 Mortgage Relief Act of 2020, introduced by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) and Rep. William Lacy Clay (D-MI). This legislation, in line with Chairwoman Waters’ March housing proposal, extends the foreclosure moratorium to 6 months after the bill is enacted and expands foreclosure relief to all mortgages nationwide, not just those that are federally-backed.
Both bills are under review by the House Committee on Financial Services.
I also joined letters to congressional leadership asking for increased emergency funding for local housing authorities, through the Public Housing Operating Fund and Section 8 Voucher Program, as well as for the Emergency Solutions Grants. It is imperative that we have comprehensive, local resources on the ground to fight the pandemic and protect vulnerable individuals as we socially distance.
Emergency Cash Stimulus – I am an original cosponsor of H.R. 6496, the Emergency Money for the People Act, introduced by Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) and Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH). Under this bill, qualified individuals making less than $130,000 would receive monthly payments of $2,000 with extra funding for dependents. This cash assistance would continue until the employment-to-population ratio reaches pre-coronavirus levels. As Americans face unprecedented economic obstacles, I believe we must increase financial assistance for average Americans to weather this crisis. H.R. 6496 is currently under review by the House Committee on Ways and Means.
Education - Federal TRIO Programs fund outreach to disadvantaged students through community-based organizations, academic institutions, and agencies. During socially distant learning, students with limited access to resources are at risk of falling behind their peers. In a letter with my colleagues to congressional leadership and the House Appropriations Committee, I supported expanding TRIO programs, increasing technology support, and boosting college admissions counseling for low-income students.
State and Local Governments – My colleagues from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and I sent a letter to the National Governors Association and the National League of Cities emphasizing our support for local relief in the next stimulus package. Mayors, governors, and local leaders cannot be left out again from programs like the Health Care Enhancement Act and the Paycheck Protection Program.
Additionally, I am an original cosponsor of H.R. 6592, the Coronavirus Relief for States Act, introduced by Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO). This bill would provide the $500 billion requested by the National Governor’s Association for local COVID-19 relief. We must act quickly to prevent devastating state cuts to teachers, first responders, public health workers, and other critical resources. This bill is currently under review by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.
Frontline Workers – The grueling fight against COVID-19 has increased psychological stress and emotional trauma for our frontline workers. Even before the pandemic, doctors, nurses, and healthcare professionals suffered from elevated rates of mental health disorders. I support a new grant program under the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to allow healthcare employers to provide mental health resources for employees on the front lines of COVD-19.
Furthermore, I joined another letter to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) asking for regular, public reporting of infections and deaths of all essential workers, segmented by occupation. As lawmakers seek to apportion relief, we need the best information available on where there is greatest need.
Returned Peace Corps Volunteers – COVID-19 resulted in the emergency evacuation of Peace Corps Volunteers from their posts and has left them with limited options for returning to work in our current economy. I am an original cosponsor of the Utilizing and Supporting Evacuated Peace Corps Volunteer Act, introduced by Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN), which aims to help returned volunteers during this unprecedented public health emergency. This legislation would allow volunteers to purchase extended health insurance, establish an expedited process for returned volunteers to join domestic volunteer opportunities, and instruct the Peace Corps to restart its programming as soon as practicable.
Funeral Homes – As COVID-19 has taken the lives of over 70,000 Americans, funeral home workers are being unnecessarily exposed to accidental transmission of the disease. In a letter to congressional leadership, my colleagues and I asked for swift funding of personal protective equipment (PPE) for employees of funeral homes and mortuaries working through this pandemic.
Criminal Justice Provisions -The next coronavirus relief packaged must address the increased vulnerability of individuals in the prison system. I joined a letter to congressional leadership asking for enhanced conditions in federal, state, and local facilities, continued ability of incarcerated individuals to communicate with their attorneys, and more.
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.