Bill would presume officers contracted the coronavirus on-duty;
Congressman: ‘we’re not cutting red tape, we’re stopping the red tape from happening in the first place’
Watch Rose’s speech delivered on May 28, 2020th HERE.
WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. House of Representatives passed Congressman Max Rose’s legislation last night to expand an existing federal program to ensure that public safety officers who contract COVID-19 in the line of duty are eligible for benefits should they become disabled or die from the virus. Rose, who introduced the Public Safety Officer Pandemic Response Act of 2020 with Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (NY-10) and Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr. (NJ-09), spoke on the House floor prior to the vote urging swift passage.
“When this bill becomes law—and it will become law—the family of an officer who was catastrophically injured or lost their life will not have to jump through hoops to prove it was because of the Coronavirus,” Rose said in a speech on the House floor last night.
“They won’t have to spend ten years litigating trying to convince the government that their sacrifice meant something. Today we’re not cutting red tape, we’re stopping the red tape from happening in the first place.”
The Public Safety Officer Pandemic Response Act of 2020 would:
- Establish that a diagnosis for COVID-19 will be presumed to constitute a personal injury in the line of duty for the purposes of eligibility for the Public Safety Officer Benefit (PSOB) program, unless the officer was not on duty in the relevant time period.
- Establish the COVID-19-related disability standard be based on whether a PSOB claimant is permanently prevented from performing any gainful work as a public safety officer on account of their COVID-19 diagnosis.
- Ensure that officers who were injured or disabled in the line of duty in relation to the attacks of September 11, 2001, and whose injuries—in combination with a line of duty COVID-19 illness—rendered them disabled or caused their death will receive benefits under the PSOB program.
Currently, public safety officers or their families are eligible to receive benefits under the Public Safety Officers’ Benefit (PSOB) program, administered by the Department of Justice, upon death or disability caused by injury or illness sustained in the line of duty. The Public Safety Officer Pandemic Response Act of 2020 would expand the program to include COVID-19 as an eligible personal injury. In the immediate aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks, the PSOB program was amended to ensure those killed and injured on 9/11 were immediately eligible for the program.
Rose has led efforts to ensure those on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic and their families receive the care and benefits they deserve. Rose helped introduce the Essential Worker Pandemic Compensation Act which would provide a tax-free death benefit and additional support for the postsecondary education of surviving spouses and children of deceased essential workers. The bill would also provide a cash benefit to essential workers who are hospitalized due to the novel coronavirus and recover.
“Thank you Chairman Nadler for your leadership. Thank you for working with me on this effort. Of course, thank you to Congressman Pascrell for your extraordinary leadership in this regard.
“I stand in strong support of our bill, the Public Safety Officer Pandemic Response Act, because when this pandemic came to the United States, one thing that was never, ever in doubt was that our first responders would put on their uniforms and they would risk their lives to keep us safe.
“It was never in doubt because whenever there has been a crisis—whether it came to my city or our country—they have always been our first line of defense.
“On 9/11, they rushed into the towers. During Hurricane Sandy, they braved a super storm. And now during a pandemic, they are on the frontlines against an invisible enemy that has claimed more than 100,000 lives nationwide.
“Think of the toll this pandemic has taken on these every day heroes.
“Think of those who have gone months without seeing their kids, their spouses, their own parents. Think of those who have gotten sick. Think of those who have lost their lives.
“The very least that Congress can do right now is give our police officers, our EMTs, our corrections officers, firefighters, our public safety officers the peace of mind that if the worst should happen, we will be there for them and their families.
“When this bill becomes law—and it will become law—the family of an officer who was catastrophically injured or lost their life will not have to jump through hoops to prove it was because of the Coronavirus. They won’t have to spend ten years litigating trying to convince the government that their sacrifice meant something. Today we’re not cutting red tape, we’re stopping the red tape from happening in the first place.
“This effort has bipartisan support, and nonetheless, and only in Washington, D.C. is this possible, it is yet to cross the finish line. Well our officers cannot afford to wait, cannot afford to wait for politics. We cannot use our cops and firefighters as political pawns.
“My city has lost nearly a dozen FDNY heroes, over 40 NYPD officers, and so many more of our bravest officers across the United States of America.
“Every member of Congress loves to take pictures with first responders. We love to thank them. We love to rely on them. They protect our families when we go to Washington, D.C.
“Well today is the day we see who is willing to do more than offer them pretty words on Facebook. Who’s willing to do more than take a selfie.
“Today we see who is willing to help our first responders, like they wouldn’t hesitate to be there for us.
“God bless you, and god bless the United States of America. Let’s be there for our first responders.
“Thank you, I yield back.”
SOURCE: Jonas Edwards-Jenks | Communications Director | Congressman Max Rose
Congressman Max Rose (NY-11), National Guard soldiers