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Senator Joe Pennacchio Senator Joe Pennacchio (R-26)
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Contact: Robbie Kenney / (609) 847-3600
March 25, 2021
Senate Democrats Again Stymie Republicans in Quest for Select Committee on Nursing Homes, COVID Response

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The Senate Democrats once again torpedoed efforts by Senator Joe Pennacchio and the Republican caucus to convene a special Senate committee to investigate the Murphy Administration’s management of COVID-19 in veterans and nursing homes.

The Senate Democrats once again torpedoed efforts by Senator Joe Pennacchio and the Republican caucus to convene a special Senate committee to investigate the Murphy Administration’s management of COVID-19 in veterans and nursing homes. (Pixabay)

With unanimous support of the Republican caucus, Pennacchio again made a motion to advance a resolution, SR-68, which would create a Senate Select Committee with subpoena powers to evaluate how State policies and mandates contributed to the atrocities inside long-term care facilities and the deaths of 10,000 senior citizens.

Pennacchio’s motion, however, was immediately blocked by the majority Democrats, continuing their tacit partisan support of an administration that forced senior homes to accept COVID-positive patients and threatened to discipline healthcare workers for wearing masks early in the pandemic.

“It defies logic that my Democrat colleagues continue to circle the wagons around this Governor,” said Pennacchio. “The unnecessary loss of life inside facilities that are intended to protect vulnerable seniors demands an explanation, and the questions surrounding the State’s handling of the pandemic are not going away.”

Today’s effort marked Pennacchio’s fourth attempt to force a vote on his resolution. Earlier motions on May 14, July 30, and August 27 met the same fate at the hands of the Democrats.

“This resolution was introduced in May, and the need for a bipartisan investigation has increased with every passing month, and every additional death,” said Pennacchio. “In light of the heartbreaking and appalling testimony we heard during the recent Republican hearing on long-term care facilities and the bombshell report published by NJ.com a week ago, I can’t imagine how the Senate Democrats can continue to stand in the way and shield the Administration from legislative scrutiny.”

The NJ.com report traced the tragic decision by the Administration to force facilities to accept COVID patients and a troubling conference call with nursing home officials.

“You understand that by asking us to take COVID patients, by demanding we take COVID patients, that patients will die in nursing homes that wouldn’t have otherwise died,” a nursing home administrator told the health commissioner, according to the report.

“New Jersey was one of only five states in the country to force facilities to accept COVID patients, and the Murphy Administration forbid homes from testing new residents for the virus,” said Pennacchio. “There is no question this contributed significantly to the loss of life. The nonsensical mandate was a death sentence for innocent senior facility residents.”

Absent the bipartisan committee, Republicans held an extensive hearing on March 5. Senate and Assembly Republicans on the panel heard testimony from family members who lost loved ones, infectious disease experts, and others, but officials from the Governor’s administration ignored invitations.

“At the end of the emotional day, we had still more questions that demand answers, and that’s why Senate Republicans remain committed to convening a select committee with subpoena powers to get to the bottom of this compelling issue,” said Pennacchio. “We will not rest until the families of nursing home victims get the answers they deserve from the Trenton bureaucrats responsible for the decisions and edicts that led to the loss of life.”

Related Tweet:
https://twitter.com/joepennacchio/status/1375151807010340870

Website Post:
https://www.senatenj.com/index.php/pennacchio/senate-democrats-again-stymie-republicans-in-quest-for-select-committee-on-nursing-homes-covid-response/52811