WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ) today led their colleagues in calling on President Trump to direct the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to waive all cost-share requirements for states responding to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic. On March 13, President Trump declared a national emergency related to the outbreak, authorizing federal assistance to supplement state, tribal, and local recovery efforts. Despite continued calls from Congress and governors, the President has not yet taken action to aid states facing severe budgetary limitations and growing costs associated with public health measures. The Senators’ letter reiterates continued calls for the President to increase the federal cost share from 75 to 100 percent for emergency work associated with pandemic response.
“Many state governments are slashing budgets and implementing layoffs at a time when Americans need support more than ever. These reductions are unsustainable and dangerous, and only the federal government has the capability to alleviate these concerns,” the Senators wrote. “Therefore, we urge you to increase FEMA’s cost-share to the full 100 percent, to remove financial burdens from the states and enable them to maximize response effort,”
The push follows previous calls by Peters and his colleagues to utilize all available resources to limit the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic. Earlier this month, the nation’s governors urged President Trump to waive all cost-share requirements for assistance related to Coronavirus. Peters previously urged the Administration to grant Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s request for the State of Michigan and joined U.S. Representative Peter DeFazio in urging the Administration to increase the federal cost-share to 100 percent.
Peters serves as the Ranking Member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which oversees FEMA. He and Menendez were joined in sending the letter by U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Tom Carper (D-DE), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Angus King (I-ME), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Ed Markey (D-MA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Tina Smith (D-MN), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Jackie Rosen (D-NV), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Jack Reed (D-RI), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Bernie Sanders (D-VT), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI).
Text of the letter is copied below and available here:
April 23, 2020
The Honorable Donald J. Trump
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20500
Dear President Trump:
We write to urge you to direct the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to provide 100 percent cost-share for all states, tribes, territories, and the District of Columbia for the emergency declaration issued on March 13, 2020, and under any subsequent major disaster declaration for the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. States and territories across the country are currently assuming overwhelming costs for COVID-19 response while coping with massive reductions in revenue due to economic slowdown. It is the federal government’s duty to aid these states in this critical hour. We cannot let them down.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a disaster of unparalleled scale for our nation, and FEMA must adapt their response accordingly. For the first time in our nation’s history, every state in the union has been issued a major disaster declaration, accompanied by your national emergency declaration on March 13. These issuances give FEMA the ability to assist and empower states in response to the crisis and support initiatives on the on the ground. We are encouraged by these efforts thus far, and know that they make a difference in our communities.
As the pandemic continues to spread, however, states are increasingly being put in impossible positions. Many state governments are slashing budgets and implementing layoffs at a time when Americans need support more than ever. These reductions are unsustainable and dangerous, and only the federal government has the capability to alleviate these concerns. Therefore, we urge you to increase FEMA’s cost-share to the full 100 percent, to remove financial burdens from the states and enable them to maximize response efforts.
You have stated that our country is engaged in a fight against an “invisible enemy.” This battle we face has presented unprecedented challenges, and therefore merits unprecedented actions from the federal government in response. We must come to the aid of our states as soon as possible, to combat the destructive impacts the virus will have on our public health and economy. Thank you for your consideration of our request.