State Senate Republicans Again Push for Investigation into NJ COVID Nursing Home Deaths
If at first you don't succeed, try five more times.
That's the approach the New Jersey State Senate Republican Caucus is taking for now the 6th time in requesting Senate President Steve Sweeney put together a bi-partisan investigative committee who has subpoena power to "examine the failures that led to thousands of nursing home deaths, along with other aspects of the Murphy Administration’s flawed COVID-19 response."
Senate Republicans, who issued a statement Tuesday, have been coming up with six different ways to form such a committee since May.
They point to a time in May when it was close but ultimately no cigar in terms of an investigation.
Sweeney and Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean Jr. (R) both agreed to an investigation and formation of a committee, but it's been silent in the majority ever since.
It's led to members of the State Senate Republican Caucus becoming irate and not too patient that it's taking so long, as they point north to what is going on in New York.
"While Democrats in the New Jersey Legislature continue to turn a blind eye to Murphy Administration mismanagement that contributed to thousands of deaths, top Senate Democrats in New York are taking action to hold the Cuomo Administration accountable for similar failures in the Empire State," the caucus said in a statement.
Here is the letter the State Senate Republican Caucus has written to Senate President Steve Sweeney:
Dear Senate President Sweeney,
After months of delay and inaction, it is time for you to formally constitute the investigative body that was promised to help us understand how the executive branch’s response to COVID-19 has contributed to the massive loss of life in New Jersey’s long-term care (LTC) facilities, with the goal of saving lives in the future.
Our caucus has written to you a number of times to express the critical importance of this effort. For reference, our prior correspondence can be found on our website at the following links:
- May 13, 2020: https://www.senatenj.com/uploads/select-committee-ltr-sweeney.pdf
- May 20, 2020: https://www.senatenj.com/uploads/sweeney-ltr-5-20-2020.pdf
- May 29, 2020: https://www.senatenj.com/uploads/sweeney-ltr-5-29-2020.pdf
- June 2, 2020: https://www.senatenj.com/uploads/sweeney-preservation-ltr-6-2-2020.pdf
- July 21, 2020: https://www.senatenj.com/uploads/sweeney-ltr-7-21-2020.pdf
Unfortunately, despite the determination of Senate Republicans to move this process forward, no substantive action has been taken by the Senate Democratic Majority to understand how the flawed policies of the Murphy administration could be improved to better protect the tens of thousands of seniors, veterans, and residents with disabilities who live in LTC facilities across New Jersey.
To date, nearly 8,000 residents and staff of our nursing homes and veterans homes have died, with the loss of life still rising at a tragic rate. In fact, deaths in our nursing homes tripled in December from the prior month as the Murphy administration bungled paperwork delaying the start of the vaccination process in these facilities.
Despite the consequences of Governor Murphy’s policy requiring LTC facilities to accept COVID-positive patients, which led to thousands of unnecessary deaths in the initial months of the pandemic, we have heard repeated concerns from constituents that infected patients continue to be admitted into the LTC facilities where their parents and loved ones reside.
Additionally, the administration continues to deny both the media and legislators access to documents and emails that would help us to understand how some of the tragic decisions were made or why they have been allowed to persist.
Without a substantial legislative oversight effort to hold them accountable for the preventable deaths in our nursing homes, veterans homes, and LTC facilities, it’s clear the Murphy Administration has had little motivation to improve protections for New Jersey’s seniors, veterans, and disabled residents from the devastating impact of COVID-19.
We continue to believe the Legislature must utilize the full range of its oversight powers as a co-equal branch of government to demand accountability and improve transparency from the administration on all aspects of its COVID-19 response. We again urge you to allow the formation of a bipartisan select committee with subpoena power to help us to uncover the truth and develop and implement life-saving reforms.
Deputy Conference Leader
Anthony M. Bucco
Senator – District 25
Senator – District 39
Senator – District 9
Senator – District 23
Senator – District 10
Senator – District 13
Senator – District 1
Senator – District 12