Washington Review, August 7, 2020
This week, I signed onto legislation to keep workers on the payroll while the COVID-19 pandemic persists and signed onto a letter to House leadership urging any future stimulus bill to include funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). I also signed onto a letter to support our Postal Service and provide relief to Lebanon after the tragic explosion in Beirut.
On Thursday, I became a cosponsor of H.R. 6918, the Paycheck Recovery Act of 2020. This crucial piece of legislation helps to protect workers that are still feeling the negative effects of COVID-19, and support businesses to ensure they do not have to lay-off employees and are ready to restart once our economy opens fully again. H.R. 6918 would, among other things, cover 100% of the wages, for employees making up to $90,000, to ensure workers can remain on payroll, keep workers enrolled in employer-sponsored healthcare programs, and encourage employers to rehire any recently laid off or furloughed staff. COVID-19 has certainly hit our economy, but I am committed to supporting our workers and ensuring their needs are met until we get our economy up and moving again.
On Wednesday, I signed onto a letter led by Rep. Katherine Clark (D-MA), addressed to Speaker Pelosi (D-CA) and Leader McCarthy (R-CA), requesting at least $15.5 billion in emergency funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in any future stimulus legislation. The NIH helps lead the way for groundbreaking medical research in our country. Due to the effects of COVID-19, much of the crucial research at NIH has been put on hold. The urgency of this pandemic has shown that we must provide more funds for our health agencies so they can continue their world-class research. The NIH is integral for providing research into COVID-19, as well as other longstanding health concerns such as Alzheimer’s, cancer, and heart disease. I am grateful for the work done by the NIH and believe it is of the utmost importance we continue funding medical research during these times.
On Thursday, I joined my New Jersey delegation colleagues in a letter led by Rep. Bonnie Watson-Coleman (D-NJ), to Speaker Pelosi and Leader McCarthy, urging support for the United States Postal Service (USPS) in any future stimulus legislation. The Postal Service has bravely continued their operations in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. With the November elections approaching and a record number of mail-in ballots expected to be cast, it is crucial that Congress shows their support for the hard-working employees of the agency.
I also signed onto a letter led by Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), to House and Senate leadership urging them to extend the 2020 Census reporting deadline in any future stimulus legislation. Due to the impacts of COVID-19, the Census reporting has been slower than normal, with obstacles to in-person recording of data. Current plans to end the Census count on September 30, 2020, would lead to an inaccurate and incomplete count of our country, as nearly 40% of households remain uncounted. This letter calls for the deadline to be extended to April 30, 2021, and also calls for an additional $400 million to be allocated towards the Census to help continue operations through next April. The Census is a vital part of our community and an important tool in distributing federal resources. We cannot risk having an incomplete county of our country.
I joined over 75 of my colleagues in a letter led by Rep. Darin LaHood (R-IL), Rep. Charlie Crist (D-FL), Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI), Rep. Donna Shalala (D-FL), and Rep. Garret Graves (R-LA), in a letter to Secretary of State Pompeo urging the Administration to support Lebanon after the explosion in Beirut. On August 4, 2020, two explosions in Beirut, Lebanon killed over 150 people and injured over 5,000 more while causing severe damage to the city’s port and surrounding infrastructure. The letter urges the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to continue deploying humanitarian relief to Lebanon and to join multilateral efforts in supporting rescue and recovery efforts. The explosion, believed to be due to a nearby stockpile of ammonium nitrate, caused excessive damage and is a horrible tragedy. We need to support Lebanon in any way possible as they begin to cope with the damage and loss of life.
The Census response rate in the 8th District is far below the average for the rest of New Jersey. Completing the Census is not only a constitutional responsibility but also greatly helps your district and local community get the funds it needs. Census results are directly tied to funding for emergency first responders, hospitals, schools, and many other important federal programs. Completing your census takes less than 10 minutes total and can have a significant impact. To complete your census visit: https://2020census.gov/en.html
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.