Trump Signs Pandemic Relief Bill After Unemployment Aid Lapses

Emily Cochrane, Nelson D. Schwartz and 

Dec. 27, 2020

President Trump, who had stalled on the bill for days, issued a series of demands for congressional action even as he signed it, though lawmakers showed little immediate enthusiasm for his requests.

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WASHINGTON — President Trump on Sunday abruptly signed a measure providing $900 billion in pandemic aid and funding the government through September, ending last-minute turmoil he himself had created over legislation that will offer an economic lifeline to millions of Americans and avert a government shutdown.

The legislative package will provide billions of dollars for the distribution of vaccines, funds for schools, small businesses, hospitals and American families, and money needed to keep the government open for the remainder of the fiscal year. The enactment came less than 48 hours before the government would have shut down and just days before an eviction moratorium and other critical pandemic relief provisions were set to expire.

But it also came after two critical unemployment programs lapsed, guaranteeing a delay in benefits for millions of unemployed Americans.

The crisis was one of Mr. Trump’s own making, after he blindsided lawmakers and White House officials with a videotaped implicit threat on Tuesday to veto the package, which his top deputies had helped negotiate and which had cleared both chambers of Congress with overwhelming bipartisan support nearly a week ago. The 5,593-page legislation was flown to Florida, where the president is spending the winter holidays, on Thursday and had been waiting for Mr. Trump’s signature since.

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Christie has short (and calm) response to Trump pardon of Jared Kushner’s father — the man he sent to jail

Posted Dec 27, 2020

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who’s known for his brash persona, had a relatively measured reaction Sunday about President Donald Trump recently giving a full pardon to a man Christie prosecuted when he was U.S. attorney.

Trump, a Christie friend and ally, announced Thursday he pardoned Charles Kushner, the wealthy New Jersey real estate developer who went to jail for tax fraud more than a decade ago in a famous case that Christie oversaw as New Jersey’s federal prosecutor. Kushner is the father of Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and a senior adviser to the president.

The bizarre case — which included sex tapes and a prostitute — helped raise Christie’s profile in the early 2000s. He later called it ”one of the most loathsome, disgusting crimes that I prosecuted” in the Garden State.

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News Flash – Trump’s $2,000 Proposal Is All About Him

By Guest Contributor | December 26, 2020

Insider NJ

By George Ball

President Donald Trump

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We are all watching the President’s latest bait and switch.  Which, by the way, seems so absurdly transparent that our media pundits’ failure to clearly describe it is itself concerning.

Trump’s threatened upending of the COIVD relief effort does not target those who need relief.  It targets what is left of the Republican establishment.  In recent days, all 50 states have certified their electors.  McConnell has stated the obvious (that Biden will be president) and told his caucus to not challenge any of the certified electors on January 6th.  Trump has lost scores of legal challenges so frivolous as to be judicially sanctionable.  And the Republican Senate caucus, which was unable to coalesce around a $1,200 relief payment, haltingly agreed to a $600 one.

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These New Jerseyans deserve a better holiday | Editorial

Posted Dec 25, 2020

There is a substantial group of New Jerseyans who are excluded in the fine print of the federal stimulus bill again, so their hope of getting a boost for the holiday season has been vanquished by another viral spread of beltway myopia.

They are undocumented immigrants, and many work as hard as anyone you know. They are often essential workers, they pay their taxes, and they were likely to get pummeled harder by the coronavirus than any other group in our state or nationally.

Yet they are not eligible for unemployment, even though they have contributed $1.3 billion in payroll tax in the last 10 years, they’re not eligible for food stamps, and once again, our federal and state governments allow this injustice to prevail.

T’is the season? Apparently not.

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Tracking sites suggest early vaccinations lagging in NJ

LILO H. STAINTON, HEALTH CARE WRITER | DECEMBER 23, 2020 

NJ Spotlight News

Dec. 18, 2020: Gov. Phil Murphy (second from left) was at Hackensack Meridian Health’s vaccine clinic as vaccinations were underway.

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New Jersey officials say they are pleased with how the state’s coronavirus vaccine program has launched at hospitals, and health care and labor leaders reported few significant glitches with the process to date.

But questions remain about the pace of immunizations at the hospital-based vaccine clinics, which began administering the vaccines to at-risk health care workers early last week, and state officials declined Tuesday to provide updated data on how many sites are now operating and how many people have been immunized thus far.

In addition, efforts to track the vaccine rollout nationwide suggest some states have been better able to capitalize on federal shipments from Pfizer and Moderna, the two pharmaceutical companies whose vaccines are now approved for emergency use in the U.S.

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Christie says he won’t ‘rule out’ running for president in 2024 even if he has to challenge Trump

Posted Dec 22, 2020

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie isn’t saying no to a rematch against President Donald Trump for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.

Christie — who lost the party’s 2016 nod to Trump, a longtime friend — made the comments during an interview Monday with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt.

“If President Trump decides to run in 2024, are you ruling out running against him?” Hewitt asked.

“I would not, no,” Christie said. “I would not rule it out, Hugh.”

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The Itchy Twitter Finger of Donald Trump and the Future of the GOP

By Carl Golden | December 22, 2020

Insider NJ

Despite having failed to prevail in any consequential legal challenge to overturn the presidential election, President Trump and his team of conspiracy theorist attorneys — egged on by hardcore supporters and advisers, members of Congress and an element of the media —have continued to insist he was re-elected overwhelmingly and his victory stolen by massive fraud and foreign interference.

Even the most devoted Trump disciples have come to the realization — albeit it reluctantly and bitterly —  that the Biden Administration will assume office Jan. 20 and the ex-president will retire to plot a takeover of the Republican Party and his comeback in 2024.

He’s made it abundantly clear he will not “go gently into that good night,” but from his redoubt in Florida will give in frequently to his itchy Twitter finger, raise millions of dollars, command as much media attention as possible and attempt to chart the future course of the party.

Given the apparently pointless strategy of litigation perseverance, it is reasonable to ask: “What is the end game here?”

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N.J. Approves $14 Billion in Corporate Tax Breaks in Less Than a Week

THE NEW YORK TIMES

Dec. 21, 2020

Gov. Philip D. Murphy of New Jersey and legislative leaders brokered a deal authorizing $14 billion in corporate tax cuts.

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No issue has defined Gov. Philip D. Murphy’s first term in office more than corporate tax incentives. He railed against them as a Democratic candidate for governor and, once elected, initiated an investigation that exposed the program he inherited from his Republican predecessor as a poorly managed boon for politically connected firms.

Yet on Monday, the State Legislature, with Mr. Murphy’s blessing, approved a new tax incentives bill, and the sheer size of it — as well as the breakneck speed at which it was introduced and passed — was shocking, even in New Jersey.

Legislative leaders and the governor’s aides have said that the $14 billion incentive package to encourage businesses to stay in, or move to, New Jersey provides extra protections against fraud and will be a vital component of the state’s ability to recover from the pandemic.

But the move has outraged good-government and progressive organizations that for years have stood in lock step with Mr. Murphy, helping the first-term Democrat to notch signature wins on issues that ranged from raising taxes on income over $1 million to legalizing marijuana.

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What we know about NJ’s COVID-19 vaccination program

LILO H. STAINTON, HEALTH CARE WRITER | DECEMBER 22, 2020 

NJ Spotlight News

Dec. 8, 2020: A nurse holds a phial of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at Guy’s Hospital in London as the U.K. health authorities rolled out a national mass vaccination program.

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As New Jersey enters the second week of its COVID-19 vaccine rollout, state officials are facing criticism for not moving faster to ensure nursing home residents had the earliest possible access to immunizations.

But New Jersey health commissioner Judy Persichilli said the timeline — which shows vaccinations in nursing homes starting Dec. 28 — reflects the state’s desire to include as many vulnerable individuals as possible in the federal pharmacy partnership to immunize those in long-term care and other congregate living facilities. The rollout has also been complicated by unexplained shipping delays and federal program requirements, she suggested.

Persichilli and Gov. Phil Murphy took much of Monday’s media briefing to provide updates on the pharmacy program, which initially appeared to be targeted to serve just long-term care, and federal plans to ship the vaccine. As of Sunday afternoon, 26 hospitals in New Jersey were immunizing at-risk health care workers and 8,740 people had received the first of the two shots of Pfizer’s vaccine, Murphy said.

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Latino museum will be built in D.C. after 25-year effort by Menendez

Posted Dec 21, 2020

A new National Museum of the American Latino will be built in Washington under a provision included in legislation funding the federal government through Sept. 30.

The effort had been spearheaded by New Jersey U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez for a quarter-century, dating back to his tenure in the U.S. House. Menendez was the first Latino elected to Congress from New Jersey.

“We have overcome tremendous obstacles and unbelievable hurdles to get to this historic moment, but, as I’ve said before, Latinos are used to overcoming obstacles,” Menendez said. “With this vote, Latinos and Latinas across our nation will finally have their stories, struggles, and impact on our country validated by the United States Congress.”

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