WASHINGTON, DC -- U.S. Representative Tom Malinowski (D, NJ-7) today spoke on the House Floor to call on Congress to provide direct federal aid to state and local governments in otder to help them cover costs for the salaries of police officers, firefighters, and teachers, among other government employees.

"The HEROES Act would provide $75 billion to help our states conduct the testing and contact tracing that we need if we want to go back to work and school safely," Malinowski said. "The HEROES Act also provides the funding our state and local governments have been pleading for to make up for revenues lost because of coronavirus."

"In my district, I represent 75 small towns. We have more Republican mayors in those towns than Democrats, but this is not partisan in my district," Malinowski said. "Every one of them would rather spend money to pay our cops, and our firefighters, and our teachers to do their jobs than spend money to pay for their unemployment."

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"My message... is at least help us to help those who are stepping up. You want to go to the beach? To a ballgame? You want to hold political rallies? Fine, so do I," Malinowski said. "Help the people who are risking their lives to make it safer for us to do those things. Help the people who are working — who never stop working — to give us liberty without giving us death."

The full text to Congressman Malinowski's speech and a link to a video follows:

“Mr. Speaker, for the last three months, tens of millions of our fellow Americans have chosen to make painful sacrifices to keep one another safe. They made that choice before any governor of any state told them they had to. They did what they thought was right, what was decent, what was responsible. And overwhelmingly, the American people still believe that social distancing to protect our neighbors is the right thing to do, even where states have lifted stay-at-home orders. 

You wouldn’t know this by watching the news because the news dwells on conflict, not consensus. The loudest voices say, ‘Reopen everything now. Yes, people will die but people die of car crashes, of cancer, of heart disease. We don’t stay at home for that.’ The angriest voices say, ‘Go to the grocery store. Throw off your mask. Make them call the police.’ They pretend to be brave. They shout childish slogans about liberty as if liberty meant the right to endanger the lives of others for our own convenience. 

On social media there’s an effort to make everything about this pandemic partisan, as if whether you are a Democrat or a Republican should determine what medicines you should take or whether you should wear a mask. I’ve been to plenty of countries where everything is made to be political, where everything is made to be tribal. I never thought I would see people in the United States of America trying to make our country like that. 

But Mr. Speaker, America is not like that. The vast majority of us—Republicans and Democrats—still say that of course we should do what is needed to protect others. We are still a country that cares whether people live or die more than we care about the stock market. In New Jersey this year we’ve had 177 road fatalities. Thus far, we have lost more than 11,000—11,000 people to the coronavirus. And that number would be vastly higher if not for the lockdowns.

Now, nobody is rushing to our state capital with guns screaming to keep the economy closed. No one ever loudly clamors for shared sacrifice, but the quiet majority still say that we should put public health first. The vast majority still want to be sure that we only have to do this once and therefore, we have to do it right. 

So yeah, I get a lot of questions back home about when things are going to reopen. But the most urgent question I get is not, ‘When do we reopen?’ But, ‘How are you going to help us safely reopen? What are you doing about that?’ And right now, the only responsible answer is that we must vastly expand contact tracing and testing for the coronavirus so that people can go back to normal life knowing it's safe.

Unfortunately, the Administration’s plan for testing, which we just received, basically states to the states around our country, ‘Oh yeah, we’ll give you some supplies but otherwise, you’re on your own.’ It is a shameful abdication of responsibility. At this point, I’m done with expecting better from our President. We are on our own in New Jersey, in Michigan, in Ohio, in California, so let’s at least give our state and local governments the resources they need to bear this burden that our national government will not. 

The HEROES Act would provide $75 billion to help our states conduct the testing and contact tracing that we need if we want to go back to work and school safely. The HEROES Act also provides the funding our state and local governments have been pleading for to make up for revenues lost because of coronavirus. 

Mr. Speaker, in my district, I represent 75 small towns. We have more Republican mayors in those towns than Democrats, but this is not partisan in my district. Every one of them would rather spend money to pay our cops, and our firefighters, and our teachers to do their jobs than spend money to pay for their unemployment. 

So, my message to those who are stepping down from responsibility, is at least help us to help those who are stepping up. You want to go to the beach? To a ballgame? You want to hold political rallies? Fine, so do I. Help the people who are risking their lives to make it safer for us to do those things. Help the people who are working—who never stop working—to give us liberty without giving us death. 

That’s what the HEROES Act does. And if the Senate has a better plan, then let's hear it. Let's negotiate. Let's find our common ground. Otherwise, let's send it to the President and get this job done.