BY TOM MALINOWSKI
I am deeply frustrated by the relief bill introduced by Senate Republicans yesterday. After months of inaction, their proposal fails the American people during this once in a lifetime global crisis.
There are provisions in the Senate bill that are a starting point for negotiations. I strongly believe in a targeted second round of loans to our hardest hit small businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program, and am glad the Senate is prepared to provide large scale funding for testing and contact tracing nationwide. The bill also delivers significant funding for our public schools to prepare them for the fall. I do not, however, believe Congress has any business conditioning school aid on whether school districts decide to restart in person instruction. Our job is to help schools reopen safely, not to force them to do so before local communities believe it is safe.
Unfortunately, many of New Jersey’s top priorities are ignored by the Senate proposal. Most important, the Senate would provide no new funding to our state and local governments to make up for revenues lost because of coronavirus. I represent 75 small towns that have to balance their budgets despite diminishing revenue, and some have already begun to lay off essential workers and to plan significant cuts to services that touch all our lives, including fire, police and rescue services. This is not a partisan issue in my district, and we had bipartisan support in the House of Representatives for legislation I offered to provide direct aid to our local, county and state governments. Any final relief package compromise must include state and local government relief.
The Senate’s proposal drastically cuts unemployment benefits, and imposes burdensome requirements on state agencies that are already struggling to meet historic demand. To limit the burden on state workforce agencies and ensure out of work people receive the assistance they need, we should be looking to innovative approaches like the Paycheck Recovery Act, which seeks to replace worker’s wages in a more efficient and targeted way. Meanwhile, I will continue to go to bat for every constituent who is still struggling with their unemployment benefits — if you need help, please reach out to my office at https://malinowski.house.gov/help-federal-agency
Tom Malinowski is the Congressman from the 7th District.