Washington, D.C. – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed the Safeguarding America’s First Responders Act of 2020, legislation to expand 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. The legislation was shepherded in the House by Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Representative Max Rose (D-NY), and Co-Chair of the Congressional Law Enforcement Caucus Representative Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ), who introduced a nearly identical bill, the Public Safety Officer Pandemic Response Act of 2020, in April 2020 that passed the House of Representatives in May.
After the Safeguarding America’s First Responders Act of 2020 passed the Senate in May 2020, Chairman Nadler worked diligently alongside Reps. Pascrell and Rose to ensure this legislation was passed by Congress. The bill now heads to the President’s desk to be signed into law.
“Many public safety officers--law enforcement officers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians, have died or been left permanently disabled while working on the front lines during the coronavirus pandemic,” said Chairman Nadler. “I pushed for the Safeguarding America’s First Responders Act to become law because public safety officers deserve to receive the benefits owed to them for risking their lives in service to our communities. I applaud the House for passing this bill and I am grateful to work alongside Reps. Max Rose and Bill Pascrell, Jr. on this issue. President Trump should sign this bill into law without delay.”
The Safeguarding America’s First Responders Act of 2020 would establish that a diagnosis for COVID-19 will be presumed to constitute a personal injury in the line of duty for the purposes of eligibility for Public Safety Officer Benefit (PSOB) death and disability benefits.
Currently, public safety officers or their families are eligible to receive benefits under the Public Safety Officers’ Benefit program, administered by the Department of Justice, upon death or disability caused by injury or illness sustained in the line of duty. The legislation passed today would expand the program to include COVID-19 as an eligible personal injury.