The U.S. House of Representatives voted to pass legislation that members say will help address the coronavirus crisis, keep families safe, and stimulate the economy.
U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-5th Dist.), whose congressional area has been the hardest hit in New Jersey so far, said the Families First Coronavirus Response Act provides coronavirus testing free of charge to the patient; paid emergency leave with two weeks of paid sick leave; up to three months of paid family and medical leave; enhanced unemployment insurance to protect furloughed workers; strengthened food security programs for children, students, seniors and food banks; and increased federal investment to help state and local governments and health systems respond to the virus.
The U.S. Senate has not yet taken up the bill.
Gottheimer said the bill is needed as soon as possible.
“Last week, Congress passed a bipartisan emergency federal investment that was signed into law to provide a robust response to the crisis, but we now need additional resources for more tests, to protect workers and to boost local health systems’ response efforts,” he said. “The House passed bipartisan legislation so our communities, hospitals and all levels of government can continue combating the outbreak of the coronavirus, take care of patients, help stop the spread of the virus and ensure our country is protected from this public health emergency. These new resources and protections will help support the North Jersey community through this crisis.”
The legislation, if it were enacted, would provide for the following, according to Gottheimer:
- Coronavirus testing: Free coronavirus testing for everyone who needs a test, including the uninsured.
- Health security: Increased federal investment to support state and local governments and health systems, so that they have the resources necessary to combat this crisis.
- Economic security: Paid emergency leave with two weeks of paid sick leave; up to three months of paid family and medical leave; enhanced Unemployment Insurance, to extend protections to furloughed workers; tax credits for paid sick and paid family and medical leave.
- Food security: Strengthened nutrition security initiatives, including SNAP, student meals, seniors’ nutrition and food banks.