Joyce’s bipartisan Safeguarding America’s First Responders Act signed into law

The president on Aug. 14 signed into law a bipartisan bill sponsored by U.S. Rep. Dave Joyce (R-OH) to hasten access to financial assistance for families of first responders and public safety officers exposed to COVID-19.

“I applaud my colleagues in Congress for working together to get this important bill passed and thank the president for signing it into law,” Rep. Joyce said last week.

Rep. Joyce introduced the Safeguarding America’s First Responders Act of 2020 in May as H.R. 7031 with cosponsor U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH). The bill extends death and disability benefits under the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits Program (PSOB) to public safety officers and survivors of public safety officers who die or become injured as a result of COVID-19.

“Despite the threat that COVID-19 poses, our firefighters, police officers and first responders continue to risk their lives every day to keep us and our families safe,” said Rep. Joyce. “That’s why I was proud to introduce legislation to ensure their families are taken care of should they fall victim to this deadly virus.”

U.S. Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) introduced the Senate version of the Safeguarding America’s First Responders Act, S. 3607, in May. The legislation received approval from the U.S. House of Representatives in July before being presented to President Donald Trump on Aug. 4 for his signature to make the bill law.

The International Association of Fire Chiefs, the Fraternal Order of Police, and the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association endorsed the bill, which creates a presumption that if a first responder is diagnosed with COVID-19 within 45 days of his or her last day on duty, the U.S. Department of Justice will treat it as a line of duty incident, guaranteeing payment of benefits to any first responder who dies from COVID-19 from Jan. 1, 2020 through Dec. 31, 2021.