Murphy happy for $2T stimulus bill — even though it’s much lower than he wanted

Governor, who was hoping for $3T: ‘Let’s not let the perfect be the enemy of the good’

By Tom Bergeron
Trenton | Mar 26, 2020 at 8:02 am

The U.S. Senate passed a $2 trillion stimulus bill early Thursday morning that will send much-needed aid to the state of New Jersey, its hospitals and individual residents. The bill is expected to be passed by the House on Friday and immediately signed by President Donald Trump.

The economic relief package provides $250 billion in direct payments to individuals, $250 billion in increased unemployment insurance benefits, $350 billion in small business loans (some of which will not need to be paid back) and $500 billion to distressed companies.

The package includes $130 billion for hard-hit hospitals — many of which we can assume are in New Jersey — and $150 billion for state and local governments hit hard while fighting the outbreak.

(See here for complete breakdown.)

While others have slammed the bill for being too small in the amount of aid — most notably New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday afternoon — Murphy said he’ll view it as a positive step.

Just not as big a step as he wanted.

“Is it everything we want?” he asked, then answered. “It is not. But I’m in the category of let’s not let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”

Murphy, speaking Wednesday afternoon before the bill was passed, said the bill fills a bunch of buckets that are really important to the state: direct cash assistance, unemployment insurance — and expansion of the definition of who gets it — day care support for essential personnel, as well as support for small businesses, hospitals and mass transit.

Murphy, speaking at his daily coronavirus briefing, noted he had been hoping the bill would be for at least $3 trillion. But he said he was glad to see any bill was able to be passed at a time when partisan politics rule Washington, D.C.

“To be able to get $2 trillion in a matter of days — in this day and age — with bipartisan support,” he said. “It isn’t everything, let there be no doubt about it — we’ll likely need more — but I think it’s a big step in the right direction and we’ll take it.

“And it’s going to make a difference, including direct cash on the barrel to individuals and their kids. It’s a big boost. Again, not everything, but a big step in the right direction.”

The $2 trillion stimulus is by far the largest of three measures that have been passed by Congress. Legislative leaders already have begun suggesting that a fourth relief bill will be needed down the road.

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