March 18, 2020 - Coronavirus Response and Funding Update
The ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is rapidly developing and the past week has seen a dramatic increase in the number of positive cases as well as the implementation of preventative measures.
As a federal representative, I have been working with my colleagues to pass legislation that will help those impacted by the outbreak and get resources to federal agencies, states, and localities so they can respond. On March 6, the President signed into law an $8.3 billion funding bill which provides funding for prevention, preparedness, and response efforts as well as for the development of treatments and a vaccine. In addition, it provided for low-interest Small Business Administration loans to support small businesses that have been impacted.
Early on Saturday morning, the House of Representatives passed a second COVID-19 related package, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. This bill, in the House passed form, would create emergency paid sick leave and paid family leave in case of school closures through a combination of requirements on large companies and refundable tax credits, including one for self-employed individuals, gig economy workers and those with non-traditional employment. Negotiations between the House, the Senate, and the Administration are ongoing on this legislation as well as on a third legislative package.
Beyond legislation, I have been working closely with my colleagues in New Jersey, neighboring states, and across the country to push for answers and resources for our constituents. Among these efforts, I joined a bipartisan majority of the New Jersey delegation on March 16 to push the Department of Health and Human Services to increase its delivery of medical supplies for health workers in New Jersey. Governor Murphy had requested supplies from the Strategic National Stockpile but due to the rising number of cases in our state. As of March 13, New Jersey had only received a fraction of the requested supplies including 84,578 of the requested 2.88 million N95 respirators and 201,479 of the requested 864,000 face masks. I also joined a letter to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) last week asking when New Jersey could expect to have their presumptive positive cases confirmed by the CDC.
While we are extremely focused on the immediate response to the outbreak, I am also working to secure appropriations for the next fiscal year. The deadlines for submissions are ongoing through the end of the week and cover all twelve Appropriations Subcommittees. I have been, and will be, submitting funding requests for hundreds of programs that improve the lives of constituents, advance our medical research, and help us respond to crises such as this one. I have urged the Chairs and Ranking Members to provide $5.63 billion for Community Health Centers, which are playing a key role in the response to COVID-19. I also pushed for funding for the Biological Threat Reduction Program which helps countries train biologists and build laboratories that can handle dangerous infectious diseases so that we are better globally equipped to combat novel viruses like coronavirus. I have also requested funding for EPA climate research, the Land and Water Conservation Fund, Child Care Development Block Grants, Head Start, numerous transportation and infrastructure grant programs, along with support for programs that assist homeless Americans, provide school breakfast to low-income students, and support our education system. It is important that, even in these challenging times, we ensure that programs people rely on every day are funded for the long-term benefit of all Americans.
As we work to provide emergency funding, and secure fiscal year 2021 funding for thousands of programs, I will continue to provide updates so that you can stay informed of developments. If you have any questions, please contact my Washington, D.C. office at 202-225-7919 and we will work to get you the information or assistance you need.