They practiced social distancing and then doled out details of dollars – billions and millions – coming to New Jersey from a federal stimulus law.
“We refuse to leave our communities behind,” said Sen. Bob Menendez. “After all, it’s not big corporations answering 911 calls, or enforcing social distancing, or setting up the new testing sites. It’s our state and local governments.”
Among the beneficiaries are renters and businesses, medical workers and hospitals — such as Holy Name Medical Center — where the coronavirus patient admissions are surging and so are the deaths.
“They will pay for capital investments that we’ve had to make. They will help us with staff that we’ve had to furlough. They will help us with lost revenue that’s not coming in because of the fact that we delayed these other elective things. So we are expecting significant money,” said Dr. Adam Jarrett, chief medical officer for Holy Name Medical Center.
The cities and counties are in line for millions of dollars to fight what the county executive called a war.
“This stimulus package will help residents battling terrible disease, first responders and health care professionals on the front lines,” said Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco.
The senators call the money hard-fought, accepting criticism for holding out and saying it was for good reason.
“The original bill that was presented in the Senate was inadequate to help our state. And we stood in the breach, along with colleagues of ours, and refused to vote on a bill that would not give the critical aid that our state needs. And now this bill has so much more in it for New Jersey,” said Sen. Cory Booker.
“I know the economy is top of mind for many Americans,” Menendez said, “but it’s important to remember that the wealth of the nation will only improve with the health of the nation. And that health brings confidence, and that’s critical for the economics of the country to succeed.”
Booker and Menendez say it’s a good start, but they’re looking to get more from Washington as Congress seems to retreat to party lines to fight it out.
Booker says too many Americans still don’t have health insurance and he’s demanding the Trump administration open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act.
“The simple request is that this president open up the enrollment for the Affordable Care Act is common sense. To do so is cruel. There are thousands of New Jerseyans that don’t have health insurance, that if we open up the enrollment period they would be able to get affordable health insurance to help them with any of the costs related to this pandemic, or, frankly, any other health issue.”