Congressman Max Rose (D-N.Y.) praised President Donald Trump for signing into law the Safeguarding America’s First Responders Act on Aug. 14.
Rose has led the effort in the House to guarantee that public safety officers who catch the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus while on duty are eligible to receive death and disability benefits.
“In the midst of this pandemic, with so many continuing to put their lives on the line to protect and serve, it’s never been more important for all of us to rise above politics and have the backs of those who have always had ours,” said Rose.
“I appreciate the President signing this bill into law so our heroes and their families won’t have to spend years jumping through hoops to get the benefits they deserve,” Rose added.
The law expands an existing federal program to ensure that public safety officers who contract COVID-19 in the line of duty are eligible for benefits should they become disabled or die from the virus.
Safeguarding America’s First Responders Act, S3607, establishes that a COVID-19 diagnosis will constitute a personal injury in the line of work.
The public safety officers will be eligible for benefits as long as they were on duty during the illness, covering a two-year period from Jan. 2020 to Dec. 2021.
The law broadens the scope of presumption to ensure that if evidence indicates that a public safety officer contracted COVID–19 without a diagnosis, these officers and their families would be eligible for benefits.
Rose said that this law will make it easier for the officer and the family of the officers to get the benefits they need.
“They won’t have to spend ten years litigating trying to convince the government that their sacrifice meant something … we’re not cutting red tape, we’re stopping the red tape from happening in the first place,” Rose said.
The International Association of Fire Fighters General President Harold Schaitberger praised the passing of the bill.
“Firefighters who die in the line of duty shouldn’t have to prove how they contracted COVID-19,” said Schaitberger.
“By passing the SAFR Act, Congress recognizes the danger inherent in the jobs of public safety officers on the frontlines of the current pandemic and rightly affords the families of the fallen the benefits they deserve. We appreciate the leadership of Congressman Max Rose in helping move this important legislation across the finish line in the U.S. House of Representatives,” Schaitberger added.
The Safeguarding America’s First Responders Act expands the Public Safety Officers’ Benefit (PSOB) program, administered by the Department of Justice.
S3607 was considered by unanimous consent and passed the House and Senate without objection.