Sen. Menendez introduces legislation to help states get post-pandemic aid

Sen. Bob Menendez is introducing legislation to help states get federal aid during the coronavirus pandemic.

News 12 Staff

May 19, 2020, 12:56 AM

Updated 1,428 days ago

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Sen. Bob Menendez is introducing legislation to help states get federal aid during the coronavirus pandemic.
The State and Municipal Assistance for Recovery and Transition (SMART) Act authorizes $500 billion in federal dollars so that states can recover from the financial hardships that the pandemic has caused.
Menendez says that New Jersey alone has lost billions of dollars due to a “revenue shortfall.”
“Obviously that shortfall is taking place due to the social distancing protocols that the governor had to put into effect to stave off the virus and save lives, but that has had an economic cost,” Menendez says.
Menendez says that states cannot fully recover if essential employees who helped the public get through the pandemic – such as police officer, firefighter or EMTs – are laid off due to a lack of funds.
“This recovery will also require the states and counties and municipalities to be able to recover as well, and that’s why I’m proud to have bipartisan legislation to do just that,” Menendez says.
The senator says that the bill has overwhelming support in the Democratic party and that the sponsors are building support in the Republican party. Menendez says that the pandemic and the recovery impacts all Americans, regardless of political ideology.
“We didn’t ask for nearly 150,000 [New Jerseyans] to be infected with COVID-19, and we did not want to lose over 10,000 of our citizens…I would say to [critics]…look, what New Jersey and the North East is going through is headed your way. We see spikes in Texas. We see spikes in other parts of the country. The reality is that other states will feel this crunch,” Menendez says.
Photos: The Heroes of the Coronavirus Pandemic
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Menendez says that he hopes to get Congress to vote on the bills this week.
“COVID-19 should be the first and foremost priority of the Senate,” he says, adding that the House of Representatives has also introduced a similar bill for state and municipal recovery.
But the senator says that he thinks that his bill won’t get looked at until after Memorial Day.
The $500 billion would be doled out based on several factors. One-third of the money will be given out passed on populations, another will be given out based on infection rate and the final third will be based on the state’s revenue losses.
Menendez says he expected President Donald Trump to sign the legislation if it is passed.


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