SOUTHERN OCEAN COUNTY, NJ - Today, Congressman Andy Kim met virtually with the Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce’s Women in Business Roundtable participants Chamber’s CEO Lori Pepenella introduced Kim, noting that he was recently appointed to the House Select Committee on COVID-19, and is also the Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Tax, and Capital Access of Small Business Committee. Kim is the only house member from New Jersey on the Small Business Committee.
“Andy believes service is his way of life and has worked under both parties in the Pentagon, State Department, and the White House National Security Council,” shared Pepenella. “He is a South Jersey resident with his wife and two adorable boys.”
Kim said a great deal of his focus has been in ensuring the community gets the resources it need in turns of public health. He also is concerned about the safe and responsible reopening of not only Ocean and Burlington counties, but also the state.
“I’ve been working on making sure we have the testing capabilities that we need,” Kim stated. “This will help us know if folks are healthy or sick. It’s also because widespread testing will help us open back up.”
According to Kim, the widespread testing will enable employers know whether their employees are safe. It also helps to determine whether customers coming in are safe.
Kim acknowledged that Governor Phil Murphy has laid out a plan that he would like to see open even more. To do so, Kim has been trying to get more resources to the state from the federal government. The new house bill allots $75B for testing and contact tracing.
“There are other steps we need to take so that as we open up, we don’t have further problems down the road,” said Kim. “The last thing I would like to see is for us to open back up and then have to potentially shut down parts, or large parts of our community, again.”
Other countries that have reopened are now experiencing surges and are back in quarantine. Kim suggested that it would be “disastrous” for this to happen in the United States. He also used South Korea as an example of good model for managing the pandemic.
“They were able to get a handle on the crisis without doing the extreme social distancing that we are in this country,” Kim shared. “It’s because they had a lot of that public health infrastructure in place.”
The bipartisan committee on the coronavirus crisis plans to also take steps to ensure businesses have guidance and advice on making plans to reopen safely. At the state level, Kim is trying to find support.
“I’ve heard from restaurant owners and other business owners that a website page on the CDC is not enough,” said Kim. “They want to learn more about what they will be doing and get feedback on it.”
According to Kim, many businesses were helped by the Paycheck Protection Program. However, he admitted that many minority and women owned businesses were left out. The committee is trying to find the support for “those who need it the most.” He did not want to see big companies and publicly traded companies jumping ahead of smaller businesses.
The bill recently passed by the house would continue unemployment funding and help to small businesses. It would also assist municipalities who are unable to pay for essential services and education.
Kim says he was selected to the bipartisan House Select Committee on the Coronavirus Crisis because of his national security background. The committee is made up of just twelve house members, and he is the only one from New Jersey.
“Prior to coming to Congress, I served as the Counter-ISIS coordinator at the White House for two years, running point on that war effort,” Kim shared. “I ran a whole crisis response unit based out of the Situation Room at the White House for about eighteen months.”
When he concluded speaking to the group, Kim repeated his efforts concerning resources and preparation for reopening the country. He wanted to make sure if a second wave comes, it will not be as bad as the first one. He also wants to be part of the efforts to supercharge finding a vaccine in a safe and responsible way.