Calling it a potential "national disaster," Gov. Phil Murphy, D-N.J., made an impassioned plea Saturday for Congress to pass direct federal coronavirus relief aid to states.
"There is not momentum right now in Congress to put significant amounts, or any amounts of money, into direct state aid, and that would lead unequivocally to a national disaster," Murphy said during his daily coronavirus briefing Saturday, referring to a call from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.
Without a "responsible bond program" from the U.S. Treasury, Murphy said his state is going to suffer "historic" levels of layoffs.
"I don't know how many, but it is big, big numbers," he said. "We need both direct financial assistance to states from a bill passed by Congress and signed by the president, and we will need bonding flexibility in either case."
Congress is battling over the makeup of a Phase 4 coronavirus impact stimulus bill, with Republicans calling for an immediate, one-page bill adding $250 billion to the small business Payroll Protection Program before moving on to other needs.
Democrats, holding the House majority, have blocked that proposal, seeking an added $100 billion for hospitals and $150 billion in state and local funding.
"There is one part of Congress that doesn't see the wisdom into putting direct money into states," Murphy said. "Let me just tell you what the alternative will be, particularly if we can't borrow money, we will have layoffs that will be historic in the history of our state, at the state level, at the county level, and at the local level. That's what's at stake.
"I would just plead with folks on both sides of the aisle to, please, get to that reality sooner than later and make that happen."
For his part, President Donald Trump has encouraged states to enter Phase I of the Reopening of America Again plan, saying there is adequate coronavirus testing to get states back to work that have successfully mitigated the spread of the coronavirus.
New Jersey would not be one that is ready, along with New York, which are the two most infected states in America. Many other states run by Republican governors are closer to be ready to enter Phase I.
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