NEW JERSEY – Senator Joe Pennacchio Monday vowed that he and his Republican Senate colleagues would continue fighting for answers on behalf of New Jersey families who lost loved ones to the COVID virus in veterans and nursing homes.
“We cannot, we will not let this go. It is too important. We will continue pressing the Democrat majority to join our quest for answers and explanations from the Murphy Administration,” Pennacchio (R-26) said.
During Thursday’s Senate voting session, Pennacchio will make a motion calling for Senate action on his resolution (SR-68) creating a bipartisan select committee with subpoena power to review the Murphy Administration’s pandemic response efforts.
Pennacchio’s three previous attempts to move the resolution forward (on May 14, July 30, and August 27) were scuttled by the Democrat majority, which tabled the motions with procedural votes along partisan lines.
“This resolution was introduced in May, and the need for a bipartisan investigation has increased with every passing month, and every additional death,” Pennacchio said. “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. I’ll give our Democrat colleagues another chance to do the right thing and join us in the bipartisan investigation that the families of 10,000 nursing and veterans home residents deserve.”
The NJ.com report traced the tragic decision by the Administration to force facilities to accept COVID patients and 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,” Pennacchio said. “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,” Pennacchio said. “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.”