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January 15, 2021

Members Urge President-Elect Biden to Take Action to Help Communities Dealing with the COVID-19 Pandemic

By waiving all Federal FEMA cost-share requirements tied to pandemic response, the Biden administration can lessen the financial burden on state, local, tribal, and territorial governments that are seeing budgets stretched thin due to the ongoing pandemic

(WASHINGTON) - Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Chair of the House Committee on Homeland Security Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Chair of the House Committee on Appropriations Rosa L. DeLauro (D-CT), and Representatives Dina Titus (D-NV), Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), and Mike Thompson (D-CA) yesterday sent a letter to President-elect Joe Biden urging his incoming administration to waive all Federal cost-share requirements for assistance provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (Stafford Act) in order to reduce the growing financial burden on all states, tribes, territories, and the District of Columbia amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“Since invoking the Stafford Act in March 2020, we have sent multiple unanswered requests to President Trump urging him to exercise this authority to increase the Federal cost-share. Those requests have fallen upon deaf ears during the last ten months, as the toll of the pandemic has exploded,” the Members wrote. “Despite Federal assistance provided in the CARES Act and the December 2020 omnibus, these governments have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on efforts to prevent, contain, and mitigate the effects of the virus.”
Specifically, the Members are asking FEMA to:

  • Repeal a Trump administration policy that restricts certain reimbursements for state, local, tribal, and territorial governments, including those for personal protective equipment;
  • Increase the Federal FEMA cost-share provided under the Stafford Act to 100 percent for emergency declarations made by states, territories, and local and tribal communities issued on March 13, 2020, and any subsequent major disaster declarations; and
  • Fully harness the logistics capabilities of FEMA to coordinate vaccination distribution and administration with state, local, tribal, and territorial governments across the Nation.

The Members concluded by urging swift action, noting, “These actions will ensure governments, citizens, and businesses in communities across the country will have the vital Federal resources they need to continue working to defeat this pandemic and build back better.”
This letter follows House passage of H.R. 8266, the FEMA Assistance Relief Act of 2020, in November 2020. That legislation—led by the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee— would have adjusted the FEMA cost-share for all emergencies and major disasters declared in calendar year 2020 to not less than 90 percent Federal and 10 percent non-Federal, up from the typical 75 percent Federal and 25 percent non-Federal. While this bill was unanimously approved by the House, it was not considered by the Senate.
The full letter can be found here.

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