Rare bipartisan vote in Trenton signals unity against Phil Murphy’s Labor Department prolonged closures

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TRENTON, NJ – Democrats in Trenton finally joined Republicans against New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy’s extended pandemic shutdown of state labor officers.

On Thursday, Republican Senator Michael Testa complimented the Senate’s unanimous approval of a bipartisan resolution calling on Governor Murphy to address ongoing unemployment issues but questioned why it took two years to finally act.

“I don’t understand what took so long,” said Testa “Two years ago, Republicans proposed forcing the Governor’s hand to address problems within the Department of Labor. This was a good idea in 2022, but it was an even better idea in 2020.”

“With the pandemic running wild and an eruption of unemployment claims pouring in on May 12, 2020, Testa and Republican colleague Michael Doherty called on Murphy to immediately reopen the Department of Labor’s unemployment centers and staff them with idle workers from other state agencies,” New Jersey Senate GOP spokesman Robbie Kenney said in a statement.

In-person unemployment services had been suspended on March 16, two months earlier, in response to the coronavirus.

“Once again, Republicans were ahead of the curve,” said Testa. “I commend my majority Democrat colleagues for finally rising up to send a strong message to the Administration that the embarrassing dysfunction within the Department of Labor cannot continue, but New Jersey residents shouldn’t have had to suffer this long waiting for the Legislature to say ‘enough is enough.’”