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N.J. officials praise signing of federal stimulus plan 'that our families needed'

Governor Phil Murphy

When President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan on Thursday — the third stimulus package of the pandemic, but the first of his administration — New Jersey officials praised it as essential for tackling the challenges still facing the state.

“This is the plan that our families needed from the start,” said Gov. Phil Murphy, during a press conference Friday morning. “This is the plan that will allow exponentially more of them to look with optimism to the days and weeks and months to come, instead of with dread.”

The package includes $1,400 checks for individuals making up to $75,000 per year, or $2,800 for couples making up to $150,000 annually. The White House said stimulus checks would begin going out in the coming days.

In addition to the direct aid to individuals, the new law also appropriates $360 billion in state and local aid nationwide. About $10 billion of that will go to New Jersey, where Gov. Murphy has been calling for more federal aid for months.

“This wasn’t easy,” said Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J. “Particularly to try to ensure that the things that were important to New Jersey were preserved.”

The plan also extends the $300 weekly unemployment benefit increase through September, provides aid to struggling restaurants and other businesses, and includes funding to help schools reopen safely for in-person instruction.

Menendez, Democratic Sen. Cory Booker, and all ten Democratic members of the New Jersey delegation supported the stimulus plan. But it received no Republican support in either the Senate or the House — both of New Jersey’s Republican Reps. Chris Smith and Jeff Van Drew voted against it.