WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Bob Menendez, a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee that sets national tax and health policy, went to the Senate floor this evening to demand the Senate pass a robust COVID-19 stimulus package that puts the American people and the needs of frontline healthcare workers ahead of corporate interests. The senator pressed upon his colleagues both the sense of urgency to respond to the coronavirus outbreak and the responsibility to “get this right.”
“If we don’t get the health of the nation right, we will not get the wealth of the nation right, no matter how much money we spend,” Sen. Menendez said. “First and foremost, this is about having a robust figure for the hospitals and frontline workers. This package, as presently devised, fails to do so. Secondly, this is about making sure that not just big corporations get the monies that they need, but that average working families and individuals get the robust assistance that they need to get through this period of time.”
A member of the bipartisan working group directly negotiating the package with top Trump Administration officials, Sen. Menendez has prioritized that any legislation include additional support for overwhelmed health systems, direct cash payments to families, relief for small businesses and municipalities, student loan forgiveness, foreclosure and eviction protections, and a robust unemployment insurance program for individuals affected by the pandemic.
The senator proceeded to outline the “shameful” deficiencies in the package that he voted against this evening, decrying the inclusion of a $425 billion corporate “slush fund” that gives full discretion to the Treasury Secretary to choose which companies get funding and without any transparency.
“How many times are we going to get a shot at a $1 trillion-plus program? How many times?” the senator continued. “So we need to not only have a sense of urgency, we need to get it right in order to affect the wellbeing of the American people in their health, in their economic wellbeing and the future economic wellbeing of the nation. So this rush in a way that doesn’t get it right is dangerous.”
Sen. Menendez made clear that he would only support aid to affected industries and corporations if that funding is directed to help their workforce, and it includes tight guardrails to prevent taxpayer money being used to for stock buybacks and executive pay.
Click the links for a full list of Sen. Menendez’s actions to protect New Jersey families during the COVID-19 outbreak.