Booker On Relief Bill: ‘We're Going To Have To Go Back And Do More’

Lynda Lopez
March 31, 2020 - 5:12 pm

NEWARK, N.J. (WCBS 880) — The $2.2 trillion coronavirus economic relief bill passed by Congress received some criticism from states for falling short and failing to address all of the needs Americans are facing during the coronavirus crisis. 

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker said his state will receive $100 billion to provide a tremendous amount of assistance to first responders and hospitals, including personal protective equipment and the ability to buy testing supplies and other items that will help as cases surge over the coming weeks. 

The bill will also expand unemployment insurance, provide individual cash payments of $1,200 to adults and $500 to children, and give critical assistance to state and local governments facing budget problems.

While the bill does not include everything on Booker's wish list, he said it's a good start.

"This is the biggest bill of its kind in the history of the United States and it's not perfect, it came as a result of a compromise, it doesn't have everything in it that I want, but it will bring a lot of relief people who are feeling economic insecurity right now ," Booker told WCBS 880's Lynda Lopez. "I think we're going to have to go back and do more."

Booker gave credit to state officials including Gov. Phil Murphy for locating ventilators, PPEs and thinking outside the box to expand hospital capacity, but the senator and former Democratic presidential candidate said this crisis will last for months and he believes Congress will have to go back and work on another package to make sure everyone has the resources they need to overcome this crisis.

"This is the greatest challenge to our country that many of us have seen in our lifetimes and to see the way people are rising to the occasion is really important but I believe very strongly that the federal government and Congress is going to have to go back in session, go back into action," Booker said, adding that some of the areas he'd like to see addressed are educational support, homelessness, supporting food banks and securing more lifelines for businesses.

He'll also be fighting to increase the individual cash payments as well as look to add another one that's automatically triggered if the economy doesn't get off its feet by the next quarter.

Booker said now is the time for everyone to work together to get out of this and also look ahead to make sure the country is prepared to handle a similar situation should it happen again in the future.

"We as a country now know that we have got to be far more resilient to challenges like this, that means not being an outlier and being the only developed nation that doesn't have paid sick leave, that we have the kind of resources preparing for future possible pandemics. There's a lot of things we should be learning and start acting on as well as we look at this crisis," Booker said. "If this is the greatest test to our country, we may not have been alive to storm beaches in Normandy or do freedom rides or sit ins, but this is our time to step up and do something for those who need our help.This is the time to understand that the only way this country has ever gotten through tragedies, crises, challenges is to do it together and we need to be reaching out to each other and supporting each other during this difficult time."