May 07 2020
Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today joined Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and a bipartisan group of senators to support the Safeguarding America’s First Responders Act. The legislation clarifies the certification requirements to make it easier for families of first responders who die due to coronavirus to access survivor benefits.
“First responders risk their lives every day, and that’s especially true as we face a global pandemic. There should be no uncertainty about whether the families of first responders have access to benefits should their loved ones die due to coronavirus. I’m proud to join my colleagues on a bill that ensures our first responders are honored and their families protected during this crisis,” said Feinstein.
“America’s first responders are on the front lines in the fight against the pandemic, and sadly, some have already contracted the disease and died while working to keep our communities healthy and safe. Their loss is not only emotionally devastating, but it also means lost wages in an economically challenging time. The government already provides payments to families of officers or first responders who die from a work-related event, but this bipartisan bill recognizes the unique challenges posed by this pandemic and better ensures that public safety officers’ families can quickly access the financial help they’ve been promised,” said Grassley.
“Our first responder risk their lives each day to protect us from the threat of COVID-19, and many have already made the ultimate sacrifice. There must be no question that our country will support their families when the unthinkable happens. Our bipartisan legislation will make certain that the families of these heroes get the benefits they are rightfully owed,” said Booker.
In addition to Feinstein, Grassley and Booker, the bill is supported by Senators Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine).
- The Public Safety Officers Benefits Program provides death benefits to survivors of first responders who die in the line of duty. The program requires evidence linking deaths caused by an infectious disease to work-related activity. Determining where and when someone contracts coronavirus in the midst of a global pandemic presents a unique challenge.
- The bill establishes a temporary presumption that coronavirus infections will be considered to be contracted while on duty if diagnosed within 45 days of an officer’s last shift.
- The legislation is endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police, National Association of Police Officers, Federal Law Enforcement Officer Association, the International Association of Fire Fighters, the International Association of Fire Chiefs, the Sergeants Benevolent Association of New York and the National Association of School Resource Officers.