Commissioners thank First Lady for COVID rescue plan act as she visits Burlington County

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From left: Burlington County Sheriff Anthony Basantis, U.S. Senator Bob Menendez, Congressman Andy Kim, Burlington City Mayor Barry Conaway, Burlington City Police Chief John Fine, Burlington County Commissioner Director Felicia Hopson and U.S. Senator Cory Booker were among the officials who greeted First Lady Dr. Jill Biden at the Samuel Smith School in Burlington City.PHOTO COURTESY OF BURLINGTON COUNTY
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Commissioner Director Felicia Hopson and U.S. Senator Cory Booker were among those who greeted the First Lady at the Samuel Smith School in Burlington City.PHOTO COURTESY OF BURLINGTON COUNTY
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First Lady Dr. Jill Biden speaks outside the Samuel Smith School in Burlington City about the American Rescue Plan Act and how it will help the nation recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.PHOTO COURTESY OF BURLINGTON COUNTY
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From left: Burlington County Sheriff Anthony Basantis, U.S. Senator Bob Menendez, Congressman Andy Kim, Burlington City Mayor Barry Conaway, Burlington City Police Chief John Fine, Burlington County Commissioner Director Felicia Hopson and U.S. Senator Cory Booker were among the officials who greeted First Lady Dr. Jill Biden at the Samuel Smith School in Burlington City.PHOTO COURTESY OF BURLINGTON COUNTY
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Commissioner Director Felicia Hopson and U.S. Senator Cory Booker were among those who greeted the First Lady at the Samuel Smith School in Burlington City.PHOTO COURTESY OF BURLINGTON COUNTY
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First Lady Dr. Jill Biden speaks outside the Samuel Smith School in Burlington City about the American Rescue Plan Act and how it will help the nation recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.PHOTO COURTESY OF BURLINGTON COUNTY

First Lady Dr. Jill Biden visited Burlington County to highlight the American Rescue Plan Act and how it will aid the county, schools, families and small businesses.

“We were absolutely ecstatic to welcome Dr. Biden to Burlington County and hear from her how the American Rescue Plan Act can help us continue our COVID-19 response so that we can do even more to aid our residents and small businesses,” Felicia Hopson, director of the Burlington County Board of Commissioners, who was among a group of state and local officials who greeted Dr. Biden at the Samuel Smith Elementary School in Burlington City on March 15, said in the statement.

“Since the earliest days of the pandemic, our county has made it our mission to help our residents through these challenging times, and it’s gratifying to have partners in the White House with the same shared compassion and empathy for our residents’ struggles and the same commitment to getting them the help they need.

“The Bidens also understand that no single level of government can respond to this crisis alone. It requires the federal government, states, counties and towns working together in concert to defeat this virus and get our country back on its feet. And that’s exactly what’s occurring,” Hopson said in the statement.

New Jersey Sen. Troy Singleton also praised the First Lady for selecting Burlington County as one of the first destinations she will visit to promote the American Rescue Plan Act.

“The coronavirus pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on all of us, but it’s great to see President Biden and Congress respond with the kind of robust aid package this crisis demands,” Singleton said in the statement. “The American Rescue Plan Act will help our state, our county and our municipalities continue to deliver critical services and assistance to our most vulnerable residents, and Dr. Biden’s visit further demonstrates how strong leadership in Washington can make a difference.”

Biden’s visit comes just days after the president signed into law the American Rescue Plan Act, which will send direct federal COVID-19 aid to Burlington County and all 40 of its municipalities for the first time since the pandemic’s start, according to the statement. The aid can be used for the county’s response and to continue other essential services.

The Board of Commissioners released a statement on March 12 that praised the signing of the legislation and thanked Congress and the Biden administration for working to make sure it became law.

Biden’s trip marks the first time the First Lady of the United States has made an official visit to Burlington County since May 1999 when then-First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke at McGuire Air Force Base and Fort Dix to greet the first of 4,000 Kosovar refugees as they arrived set foot on U.S. soil after being airlifted from the war-torn former country of Yugoslavia, according to the statement. The refugees lived at Fort Dix for several months before being resettled.

President Joe Biden came to Burlington County in 2018 to support Congressman Andy Kim at the Golden Dawn Diner in Edgewater Park. He also headlined a fundraiser in 2014 for then-Congressional candidate Aimee Belgard in Maple Shade.

The last official visit by the president of the United States to Burlington County occurred in December 2014 when President Barack Obama came to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst to deliver an address to service members stationed there, according to the statement.

However, after Biden’s visit, Michael Joyce, spokesman for the Republican National Committee, released a statement saying, “Jill Biden’s stop in New Jersey only reaffirms what New Jerseyans already knew: the so-called ‘stimulus’ bill is full of pork and unrelated projects that have nothing to do with COVID relief. Making matters worse, New Jerseyans who send their children to private and parochial schools were left behind as Democrats rejected a provision that would have helped them combat COVID-19.”

Joyce said the Democrats’ bill includes $350 billion for a blue state bailout, with funding being distributed by a formula that is biased towards primarily Democrat-run states; $86 billion for a pension bailout that pre-dates COVID-19; $1.7 billion for Amtrak; $800 million for foreign food aid; $470 million for the humanities, arts and museums; $100 million for the EPA to “address health outcome disparities from pollution”; $20 million for language preservation; an Obamacare expansion that subsidizes health care for wealthier families; and Planned Parenthood funding.

Joyce said Democrats also rejected a provision to help private and parochial schools combat COVID-19.