Weekly Democratic Address
May 8, 2020
Hi, I’m Bob Menendez, senior Senator for the state of New Jersey.
As I’m recording this message from my Senate office in Washington, countless medical and healthcare professionals across the country are on the frontlines, leading our fight against the coronavirus. Already, this virus has taken more than 70,000 of our friends and loved ones, hundreds of thousands more remain sick as we pray for their recovery.
Grocery store clerks, warehouse and transit workers, and others are putting their own health at risk to keep food and supply chains going and making sure essential employees can keep working. Tens of millions of people are out of work and families remain sequestered in their homes.
When Leader McConnell called the Senate back into session this week, I’d hope it was so we could immediately get started on an additional package in response to this unprecedented public health and economic crisis.
Instead, the week ends as it began.
Our country is still hurting. Our people are still suffering. And Senate Republicans are blocking action on critical coronavirus legislation. Each day, they refuse to act sets us further behind.
Like you, I yearn for the day when all this is past us and we can finally return things to normal, or a ‘new normal.’ But we must have a national strategy for widespread testing so that everyone who needs a test can get a test, as President Trump promised over 2 months ago, as well as comprehensive contact tracing. Until then, consumers won’t have the confidence needed to jump-start our economy.
It’s never been clearer that our nation’s wealth depends on our nation’s health. No matter how quickly we want to rejoin society, reopen our economy, and return to normal, the reality is, folks just aren’t going to venture out until they know for sure that they are COVID-free and anyone else they come into contact with is okay as well.
Meanwhile, as we speak, our states, cities and towns are hemorrhaging money, trying to defeat COVID-19 while revenues dry up. Talking this week with mayors in my home state of New Jersey, which has been ravaged by the coronavirus, they are running out of money to pay firefighters and police officers, teachers, and sanitation workers. Building permits aren’t being processed. Lifeguards aren’t being hired to patrol the beaches, or part-time staff to run summer camps.
This isn’t a blue state or red state issue, this is an American issue. If we ever want to get back to normal, to see businesses thrive, we need to ensure that our police officers and firefighters have the resources they need, we need to keep the lights on at city hall, our public workers on the job, our kids in school, our streets safe, the trash picked up, and the buses and trains running on time.
Contrary to Senator McConnell’s solution, we cannot bankrupt our way out of this crisis. That’s foolish and downright dangerous. Congress must pass, without delay, a robust state and local aid package that delivers the flexible funding our frontline states and communities need.
Congress must also ensure that the trillions of dollars it has already authorized to defeat the coronavirus are being spent properly by the Trump administration; that small mom and pops aren’t being shut out of help in favor of big Fortune 500 companies; that unemployment and stimulus checks are being paid; that hospitals, community health centers and nursing homes have the resources they need; that the American people are getting what they paid for.
They are counting on us.
Democrats are eager to do the people’s business. It’s time for Republicans to join us and get to work.
Thanks for listening, and stay healthy.