May 01, 2020

Congressional Leaders Introduce Legislation to Help States and Communities Respond to COVID-19 by Shifting Federal Cost Share for Emergency Declarations

Washington, DC- Today, Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Chair of the House Committee on Appropriations Nita Lowey (D-NY), Chair of the House Committee on Homeland Security Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Chair of the Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Economic Development, Emergency Management, and Public Buildings Dina Titus (D-NV),  Chairwoman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), and Chair of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Communications Donald Payne, Jr. (D-NJ) introduced the COVID-19 Cost Share Adjustment Relief Act of 2020.

This legislation will ensure the Federal government pays 100 percent of the costs of COVID-19-related FEMA assistance under the emergency and major disaster declarations granted pursuant to the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, taking the financial burden off of state, local, tribal, and territorial (SLTT) governments. Typically, SLTT governments pick up 25 percent of the costs, but, with their own response costs up and tax receipts down, it’s critical these communities do not emerge from this pandemic swamped by the financial burden of the whole-of-America response necessary to defeat COVID-19.

“We are in unprecedented times. State, local, tribal, and territorial governments are being saddled with extraordinary costs associated with combatting COVID-19, and the Federal government needs to step up to provide relief,” said Chair DeFazio. “Governments across the Nation are seeing their public health and emergency management capabilities quickly exceeded as this pandemic has spread, while at the same time watching their tax bases wither as Americans do the right thing by heeding stay-at-home orders to ‘flatten the curve’ and slow the spread of this deadly coronavirus. Our legislation to increase Federal support to 100 percent will enable our local partners to dedicate their precious resources to the families, workers, and services that will inevitably need relief in the coming months. I encourage my House colleagues to support and pass this legislation.”

“As a nation, we have lost more than 63,000 lives before their time to COVID-19. Our state and local governments are in dire need of additional resources and support to weather this crisis. The toll of this pandemic is unprecedented, but adjusting the FEMA non-Federal cost share is not. Past Presidents have invoked this authority in times of crisis. Despite continued urging from Congress, President Trump has failed to do so, and states quickly expended their public health and emergency management resources. Our bill, which reflects provisions from Take Responsibility for Workers and Families, which I led in the House last month, also clarifies that certain COVID-19 response efforts would be eligible for reimbursement, such as establishing and operating virtual services. The COVID Cost Share Adjustment Relief Act of 2020 is critical to saving lives and rebuilding communities, and I implore my colleagues on the other side of the aisle to join in this urgent effort,” said Chair Lowey.

“The magnitude of the coronavirus pandemic facing our country, coupled with the current economic retraction facing states and local governments, demands that the Federal government pay a greater cost share for emergency disaster response. While the President already has the authority to direct FEMA to cover 100 percent of the COVID-19 response costs, and has been urged to do so by many of us in Congress, his failure to act means Congress should immediately provide this relief and assurance for our state and local partners,” said Chair Thompson.

“As communities in Nevada and across the nation dedicate critical resources to respond to this pandemic, the federal government must step up and provide leadership in this time of national emergency. State and local governments are already facing financial struggles due to the impacts of the virus. This legislation will provide much-needed relief to our communities,” said Chair Titus.

“I am pleased to introduce the COVID-19 Cost Share Adjustment Relief Act with my colleagues,” said Chairwoman Roybal-Allard.  “State, local, and tribal governments across America have been on the frontlines of our country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as we work to flatten the curve and save American lives. This bill provides an essential fix to fully cover the costs of these governments’ COVID-19-related FEMA assistance, which the President could have and should have done already.  Our bill will help these governments recover their financial stability and be better prepared to respond to future disasters in their communities.  I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues to provide the assistance our states and communities need as they battle this pandemic.”

“We need this bill because the states need this money to battle the coronavirus and protect Americans,” said Chair Payne. “The last thing we need to do is take money from them.  We need to recognize that our state governments are the ones that are paying the costs of this public health and economic crisis.  In addition, they must do it without the usual tax revenue because people are losing jobs and income.  The federal government needs to take this burden away from our states, so they can focus on treating patients, lowering infection rates, and getting our country back to normal.”