U.S. Senator Charles Schumer announced today that after numerous discussions with President-elect Joe Biden and his team, his incoming administration’s FEMA will deliver roughly $2 billion MORE to New York State for COVID-19 relief.
Schumer, today, said that while these funds are meant to help alleviate the mounting local costs associated with the pandemic, they will ultimately help New York State tackle COVID-related budget gaps. The money, Schumer explained, is tied to the March 2020 FEMA Disaster Declaration declared by the Trump administration. Under that declaration and current policy, 75% of NYS COVID-related expenses are covered by a Disaster Relief Fund (DRF.) Now, the expenses covered will be 100% — and this will deliver roughly $2 billion more to New York within the next several months.
“President-elect Biden is laser-focused on America’s economic recovery, and this recovery begins with tackling the costs states and local governments have incurred in managing the pandemic,” said Senator Schumer. “For New York, the costs have been huge and will take years to overcome entirely, but achieving my goal of 100% FEMA cost share to New York will mean a sigh of relief for all New Yorkers because these critical dollars will help protect essential services and workers while we deal with badly burdened budgets that have been gut-punched by COVID. I am glad we could get this done even before the President-elect is sworn in because it shows how we will be hitting the ground running come January 20th.”
Schumer has been pushing for 100% FEMA cost share since the crisis began. Early on, In March 2020, Schumer wrote FEMA saying, “I write today to urge the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to wave the 25 percent state cost share associated with any coronavirus disease (COVID-19) work under the March 13 Emergency Declaration. As New York has become the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in the US, I urge the FEMA to request this waiver from the President as soon as possible.” Schumer spent the next month’s making more calls, speaking with President Trump and hammering home the critical need for 100% relief. His advocacy continued for months thereafter and included many meetings, calls, and additional letters.
New York State has been responding to COVID since March 2020, spending limited funds on masks, extra nurses and doctors, temporary hospitals, and so much more. Because of Schumer’s earlier pushes, FEMA told the state that many of these expenses are covered, similar to insurance, under the COVID declarations. Over time the state has submitted to FEMA a log of these expenses and FEMA has assessed those expenses. For every dollar spent, FEMA and federal government currently cover 75 cents and the state provides the remaining 25 cents. Now, after Schumer’s push, the incoming Biden administration’s FEMA will cover 100% of eligible expenses, delivering roughly $2 billion more to the state of New York.
Schumer’s original letter, to FEMA Administrator Pete Gaynor appears below:
Dear Administrator Gaynor:
I write today to urge the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to wave the 25 percent state cost share associated with any coronavirus disease (COVID-19) work under the March 13 Emergency Declaration. As New York has become the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in the US, I urge the FEMA to request this waiver from the President as soon as possible.
The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 5121-5207 (the Stafford Act) authorizes the President to grant an Emergency Declaration (ED) and or a Major Disaster Declaration (MDD) in the face of a natural catastrophe. On March 13, President Trump issued an ED for New York, as well as for 55 other states, territories, and the District of Columbia, as the COVID-19 outbreak worsened. The situation on the ground has become increasingly concerning, so much so that on March 17, Governor Cuomo of New York requested a MDD, the first in the country. While the MDD has not been granted as of this letter, the ED provides New York with access to the Disaster Relief Fund (DRF) through Public Assistance from FEMA. Specifically, New York has been granted Public Assistance Category B – Emergency Protective Measures. While this is an incredibly important step, this assistance comes at a 75 percent federal to 25 percent state cost share. For example, Category B work includes providing child care for front line workers, and in New York City alone early cost estimates for child care could exceed $100 million if provided through April 20, the current end to school closures. New York State needs 100 percent federal funding to ensure that the growing economic impact of this outbreak never stands in the way of saving lives and protecting public health and safety.
In 44 CFR 206.47, the regulations for adjusting the cost share of qualifying section 403 and 407 emergency work are outlined. Subsection (d) specifies that if the need of the disaster warrants it, FEMA can recommend to the President a 100 percent federal cost share for emergency work under section 403 and section 407, including direct Federal assistance, irrespective of the per capita impact. I urge FEMA to request such a waiver from the President under New York’s March 13 Emergency Declaration.
As of March 20, the New York Department of Health reported over 7,000 COVID-19 cases across New York, including: 4,408 in New York City, 1,091 in Westchester County, 754 cases in Nassau County, 371 in Suffolk County, 101 in Rockland County, 84 in Orange County, 61 in Albany County, 36 n Duchess County, 32 in Monroe County, 31 in Erie County, 24 in Saratoga County, 21 in Schenectady County, 12 in Ulster County, 8 in Sullivan County, 8 in Rensselaer County, 8 in Onondaga County, 7 in Tompkins County, 7 in Putnam County, 3 in Ontario County, 3 in Niagara County, 2 in Wyoming County, 2 in Oneida County, 2 in Montgomery County, 2 in Herkimer County, 2 in Hamilton County, 2 in Greene County, 2 in Clinton County, 2 in Chenango County, 2 in Broome County, 2 in Allegany County, 1 in Wayne County, 1 in Washington County, 1 in Warren County, 1 in Tioga County, 1 in Schoharie County, 1 in Livingston County, 1 in Jefferson County, and one in Genesee County. New York is the national epicenter for the COVID-19 outbreak and while the immediate health risk to the majority of New Yorkers is thought to remain low, the crippling impact on the state warrants immediate and comprehensive federal support. New York State and local officials are working hard to mitigate the outbreak and protect New Yorkers and ongoing federal resources are badly needed to support those efforts.
As New York continues to address the escalating outbreak of COVID-19, I urge you to expeditiously request from the president a waiver that provides 100 percent federal funding for emergency work in New York. Thank you for your time and attention to this matter, please do not hesitate to contact my staff with any questions.