Home>Articles>Gottheimer seeks aid for frontline public service workers in next Coronavirus aid package

Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-Wyckoff). Photo by Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe

Gottheimer seeks aid for frontline public service workers in next Coronavirus aid package

By David Wildstein, April 29 2020 9:59 pm

Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-Wyckoff), joined by Democratic House colleagues from Pennsylvania and New York, today pushed Congress to approve federal investment and resources to state, county and local governments — including small municipalities — in the next COVID-19 rescue and relief package.

Gottheimer was joined by Reps. Matt Cartwright (D-Pennsylvania), Susan Wild (D-Pennsylvania) and Anthony Brindisi (D-New York) in his push for the purchase of more personal protection equipment for front-line workers and the continuation of essential public services.

The full text of Gottheimer’s statement, as prepared for delivery:

We’re all here today because we’re all fighting for investment for our state, county, and town governments.

Our country is facing major battles right now, including the fight to make sure every American is protected from this virus and the fight to get our local economies and our businesses back on track.

We have to fight these battles all together, and those on the frontlines right now are the workers in our every single one of our local communities: the front-line medical workers and EMTs that our counties and towns employ, as well as our police and law enforcement, firefighters, teachers, and the essential public service that are keeping our communities going throughout this crisis.

Here in my District in North Jersey, we’re one of the hardest hit areas in the entire country. 

In the counties that make up my District, we have more than 28,000 positive cases, and we’ve, unfortunately, had more than 1,600 deaths.

I want to thank all of our front-line health care workers and first responders who sacrifice so much to keep us safe and healthy. 

That’s really why we need to ensure that federal investment is getting to our states, counties, and towns — because there are people working hard on the local level to stop the spread of this virus, to help those who’ve been infected, and to keep everyone safe. Our states and local communities are also purchasing PPE and other supplies, and divvying that out to staff and residents in nursing homes and long-term care facilities that are in dire need.

Let me be clear: the only way to make this happen is to be united, to lead together, in cooperation, across the aisle.

This is not a partisan issue. 

I’ve been fighting hard , in a bipartisan manner, to make sure our local municipalities have the resources they need. 

I’ve been working closely with New Jersey State Senator Steve Oroho to request that New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy sends additional, critically-needed federal CARES Act dollars to Warren and Sussex Counties, in my District. 

Under the CARES Act, utilizing long-standing, unchangeable, and automatic federal formulas, Warren and Sussex Counties, and their respective municipalities, did not receive direct federal funding through the Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) and Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG).

So, the entire New Jersey House delegation has banded together — Democrats and Republican — to request that a portion of the discretionary federal CARES Act resources given to New Jersey be directed to these Counties to help fill the gap left by this outdated formula.

That’s just one example of the bipartisan support that exists for federal investment for our state and local communities.

I’ve also helped lead an effort from the entire New York and New Jersey House delegations to request that Congressional leadership create a new separate fund of at least $40 billion for states based upon their share of the national infection rate.

New York and New Jersey are the epicenters of this pandemic. Combined, we have 45% of all cases in the country — more cases than the next 18 states combined. 

However, federal aid is not proportional to the impact, meaning we’re not getting the help we need.

In the first $30 billion of federal coronavirus aid for hospitals, New Jersey and New York only received about 9% of the money, despite having 45% of the nation’s cases.

But we’re not just looking at right now, or next week and next month — we’re looking at how we can get our state and local communities reopened.

I’m the Co-Chair of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, which is evenly split between 25 Republicans and 25 Democrats.

We just announced a new Reopening and Recovery “Back to Work” Checklist, because we need a regional, industry-by-industry, incremental, multi-faceted, and data-driven approach. 

I’ve been appointed to the President’s task force on reopening the economy, and, as representing one of the hardest hit areas in the country, I realize the emphasis we must place on public health to be able to safely reopen. So, I’ve delivered our benchmarks to Congressional leadership and the White House for immediate consideration in the next phases of coronavirus response. 

The Problem Solvers Caucus knows the fight remains on the local level, and we all agree that those workers need our support.

That’s why a key benchmark in our Checklist is ensuring direct federal investments to states, counties, cities, towns, and tribal governments, because we need additional resources heading to states and directly to all counties and municipalities that were previously excluded because of pre-existing funding formulas and qualifying population counts. 

As someone who has heard first-hand how hard our local communities are battling this pandemic and working to get PPE to facilities in need, like our nursing homes — and as someone who’s heard the heartbreaking stories of loved-ones, first responders, and front-line health care workers we’ve lost, let me say that disregarding our states and communities, their workers, and the work they’re doing is not an option. 

We will not get through this without their efforts.

It’s Congress’ job to ensure we’re getting resources to the communities that need it.

And both sides of the aisle have to work together to make that happen.

It is our duty to come together and put the safe recovery of our nation first.

Here, in the greatest country in the world, we are stronger when we all come together.

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