The Push to Support the SAFR Act
The WPPA Urges Cogress to Expand PSOB Benefits to Cover COVID-19
May 21, 2020
MADISON, Wis.– This week, the WPPA joined Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul and a bipartisan coalition of 51 attorneys general to urge Congress to pass S.3607, the Safeguarding America’s First Responders Act. Broadly supported by law enforcement groups across the country, including the National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO), the Act would permit the families of first responders that die or are permanently and totally disabled as a result of COVID-19 to receive the same federal benefits through the Public Safety Officer Benefits Program as those extended for first responders that are otherwise killed or injured in the line of duty. Currently, federal law only provides certain benefits if evidence proves that the deceased or permanently disabled first responder contracted COVID-19 while on duty. The transmissibility of COVID-19 would make it nearly impossible for a first responder to satisfy that burden of proof.
“I applaud the bipartisan group of U.S. Senators and am proud to be part of a bipartisan group of AGs supporting the SAFR Act,” said Attorney General Kaul. “We must support first responders who contract COVID-19 and their families. I encourage Congress to pass this legislation promptly. I also hope that Assembly Republicans will reconsider their decision to block legislation that would have meaningfully assisted first responders in getting worker’s compensation benefits if they contract COVID-19.”
WPPA Executive Director Jim Palmer also praised the legislation, “The SAFR Act would recognize that our brave first responders serving on the front lines during this unprecedented public health crisis are doing so at greater risk to themselves and their loved ones. The WPPA is proud to support this bill and the common-sense protections it would provide to the families of first responders that fall victim to COVID-19. We urge Congress to pass this bill as soon as possible.”
The SAFR Act would establish a temporary presumption that officers contracted COVID-19 while on duty if diagnosed within 45 days of a first responder’s last shift. The legislation ensures families of officers and first responders lost while fighting the pandemic do not face unnecessary barriers to benefits already promised under existing federal law.
Read the SAFR Act. The bill is sponsored by Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Senator Cory Booker (D-New Jersey). It recently passed the United States Senate and is currently being considered by the House of Representatives.