Holding public safety in high priority with jobs creation, U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-8) today voted with the House majority in support of the Jobs for Main Street Act (H.R. 2847), which passed today with a vote of 217-212.
"A more prosperous Main Street America begins with keeping our communities' streets safe. We must keep police and firefighters in their jobs, and help communities hire the people in uniform that are needed," said Pascrell, a member of the Congressional Task Force on Jobs Creation. "The fact that the bill includes public safety appropriations demonstrates that this Congress understands this simple truth: If a community's streets are safe, then prosperity will follow.
Pascrell was equally enthusiastic about the entire Jobs For Main Street Act.
"I am proud to vote in support of this comprehensive legislation, which is exactly what I have been advocating for -- a targeted bill that is concentrated solely on jobs creation and pays for itself by redirecting Toxic Asset Relief Program (TARP) dollars from Wall Street to Main Street."
In addition to the $1.18 billion allocated to support putting over 5,500 law enforcement officers on the beat throughout the United States, the legislation also includes provisions authored by Rep. Pascrell to protect firefighter jobs. The law appropriates $500 million to retain, rehire, and hire firefighters across the United States at a time when the recession has diminished firefighting workforces across the nation. The funding will be made available to local governments and fire departments in fiscal year 2010 through competitive-grant programs including Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) and Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) programs. Any unused funds may be transferred to firefighter assistance equipment grants.
According to the International Association of Firefighters, nearly 6,000 firefighters have been laid off or are subject to layoffs. An additional 6,000 positions have been lost through attrition.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi credited Rep. Pascrell, who authored the FIRE Act and SAFER program, for his legislative initiatives that were proposed in response to fire department needs nationwide.
"Soon after he was first elected to Congress, Congressman Pascrell saw that fire departments across the nation had a clear need for federal support and he worked diligently to fulfill that need," Pelosi said. "Nearly a decade later, we continue to rely on Congressman Pascrell's leadership to help protect our communities and keep Americans working."
The public safety allocations are one part of the comprehensive Jobs for Main Street Act, which also provides for the following:
Investments for Jobs on Main Street ($75 billion)
This measure will create or save jobs here at home with targeted investments ($75 billion) for highways and transit, school renovation, hiring teachers, police, and firefighters, small business, job training and affordable housing -- key drivers of economic growth that have the most bang for the buck. These investments are fully paid for by redirecting TARP funds from Wall Street to Main Street.
Highways, Transit and Other Infrastructure ($48 Billion)
The bill invests $48 billion to help put people back to work rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges, modernizing public buildings, and cleaning our air and water, including:
* Highways & Transit-- Invests more than $35 billion in highways and mass transit. Every $1 billion of federal investments in highways creates an estimated 27,800 jobs without the state match.
The bill allocates to New Jersey $457 million for public transit, and $1.6 billion for highway and bridges projects -- $657 million of which will be used for new, shovel-ready projects generating more jobs in the coming year.
* School Renovation -- Spurs billions in immediate investment in school construction, rehabilitation and repair.
* Clean Water and Housing -- Provides $2 billion to help communities build facilities for clean and safe water and $2 billion to help communities build, preserve, and rehabilitate affordable rental homes for very low-income households and for repairs and rehabilitation of public housing.
The bill allocates $40,036,714 top New Jersey from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund to construct, rehabilitate, and modernize the state's wastewater infrastructure.
Hiring of Teachers, Police, Firefighters & Job Training ($27 Billion)
* Education--Includes $23 billion to help States save or create an estimated 250,000 education jobs over the next two years with an Education Jobs Fund solely focused on paying salaries.
* Police & Firefighters -- Puts over 5,000 law enforcement officers on the beat and invests in hiring and retaining firefighters.
* Training -- Invests about $2 billion for other hiring and training programs, that will support 25,000 more Americorps volunteers and 250,000 youth summer jobs; expand college work study jobs for 250,000 students; and support job training for 150,000 people in high growth industries, such as health care and clean energy jobs, at community colleges.
The package extends several Recovery Act initiatives to help America's small businesses create jobs by:
* eliminating fees on Small Business Administration (SBA) loans to make them more affordable for small businesses, and
* encouraging banks to lend to small businesses by raising to 90 percent (from 85 percent) the portion of a loan that the Small Business Administration will guarantee.
Small business provisions in the Recovery Act have already supported tens of thousands of loans, helping to save or create thousands of jobs -- totaling $9 billion in new small business lending since the Recovery Act's passage.
Emergency Relief to Families Hit by the Recession
For those hardest hit by the Recession, the bill includes emergency relief ($79 billion) -- extending unemployment benefits and help with health benefits for those out of work. Not only does this help those families in need, but these provisions generate demand for goods and services in the economy as a whole.
Unemployment Benefits -- Extends emergency unemployment benefits through June of 2010. The program expires at the end of the year and without an extension, roughly one million Americans will lose their emergency benefits in January 2010.
Help with Health Insurance for Unemployed Workers (COBRA)
The legislation extends through June 30, 2010 a key provision to strengthen COBRA to help maintain health coverage during this downturn. (It makes these benefits available for people who were involuntarily separated from their jobs through June 30, 2010 and extends the months of help from 9 months to 15 months.) About 7 million people benefited from this provision in the Recovery Act and hundreds of thousands who got this subsidy when it was first made available in March are currently slated to roll off the program.
Protecting Health Care Coverage for Millions through Medicaid (FMAP)
The legislation extends the provisions in the Recovery Act that provide the states with additional federal matching funds for Medicaid for six months -- from December 31, 2010 to June 30, 2011.
Child Tax Credit
The bill cuts taxes for the families of 16 million children, by making the Child Tax Credit available to all low-income working families with children in 2010. (Under the Recovery Act, families must earn at least $3,000 in order to begin to take advantage of the $1,000 Child Tax Credit.)