Menendez Doubles Back on His Case for Federal Aid


A week or so ago, Bob Menendez and Louisiana Republican Bill Cassidy joined together to hype a $500 billion federal bill to help local governments.

Nothing happened.

So today, Menendez enlisted a number of mayors around the state to make the case why federal help is needed.

Two points seem irrefutable.

One is that towns are getting slammed.

“We don’t know how people are going to pay their taxes if they aren’t working,” said Chris Vergano, the Republican mayor of Wayne.

But it’s not only taxes.

Mayors said all revenues are down, including construction permit fees, traffic ticket revenue given the fact fewer people are driving and even the coins put in parking meters.

“Prior to the outbreak, we were a thriving community,” said Raymond Giacobbe, the mayor of Rahway.

But not anymore, he admitted.

And then there’s garbage. While it’s sometimes easy to ignore, more people staying home means families are throwing out more trash.

John Ducey, the mayor of Brick, said town dumping fees are up by 25 percent since the pandemic began.

In various ways, each mayor spoke about declining revenue and the possible need to layoff, or at least furlough, workers.

But we also must get to the second point.

Is Majority Leader Mitch McConnell going to pay attention to the pleas of some New Jersey mayors?

Why would McConnell care about what the mayor of Paterson, Andre Sayegh, says?

That may seem like a harsh assessment, but that really is the bottom line.

Menendez said there are now “three Republicans” – presumably in addition to Cassidy – in support of the bill. And he said he expected “robust” GOP support when the bill is introduced, perhaps by the end
of the week. He did not identify the three additional Republicans.

Still, four Republican senators are well, … just four Republican senators. Menendez was undaunted, saying it’s been his experience bipartisan momentum tends to build when even a small number of
senators support legislation.

And he stressed that many municipalities across the country are facing the same problems as towns in New Jersey.

“There is no ‘blue’ or ‘red” when it comes to this virus,” Menendez said, pointing out that it’s called the “United States” for a reason.

Hope springs eternal indeed

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