From the office of Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer:
As The Epicenter Of Pandemic And Suffering From Highest Number of Cases and Costs, NY Should Not Have To Foot The Bill For This Virus & Deserves Full Federal Support ASAP, Schumer Says – Just Like After Superstorm Sandy & 9-11
Following Personal Call To FEMA Administrator And The President, Schumer Urges Feds To Grant A Top NY Ask: 100% Federal Cost Share
Schumer To Trump: NYers Continue To Pay The Ultimate Price Battling On The Frontlines Of COVID-19, They Shouldn’t Have to Foot The Bill, Too
Following a successful push for the Trump administration to approve New York State’s coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic Major Disaster Declaration request, unlocking billions in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) money for New York, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer today doubled down on his push to have the federal government cover the entire cost of federal disaster aid, just like after 9-11 and Superstorm Sandy. Under the current federal arrangement, FEMA is only expected to pay 75% of New York’s emergency expenses to fight the virus, sticking New Yorkers to foot the rest of the bill. Schumer had previously written the president, along with a coalition of bipartisan senators, requesting this cost-share adjustment under all COVID-19 Emergency Declarations. Now, Schumer has written directly to President Trump, and called him, to urge the administration to grant a waiver allowing 100% federal cost share for New York State for all work under the COVID-19 Emergency Declaration and subsequent first-in-the-nation COVID-19 Major Disaster Declaration.
Schumer explained that with the rapid pace of spread in New York, the state is facing an explosion in the cost of fighting COVID-19, and needs full federal support in its efforts. His push comes after he made a personal calls to President Trump and FEMA Administrator Peter Gaynor over the past few weeks, urging the president to approve the waiver. The administration has not yet acted to provide New York with the maximum possible funding, despite precedents such as previous Democrat and Republican administrations’ approval of cost sharing waivers during FEMA’s response to September 11th and Hurricane Sandy, both events which had devastating effects on New York.
“With the COVID-19 pandemic reaching alarming new levels in New York every day, New York’s health care system and our state and local governments are being strained to the max,” said United States Senator Chuck Schumer. “As our nation’s heroes continue to battle this deadly disease, it’s incumbent on the federal government to give them every tool the need to fight and recover as soon as possible. As the epicenter of this global pandemic, New York has paid more than any other state when it comes to front line workers, doctors, nurses, and victims. It is imperative that this waiver get approved with all due speed to ensure that New Yorkers are not forced to pay even more.”
Traditionally, a Major Disaster Declaration allows access to the Disaster Relief Fund, currently a $40 billion pot of money that can be used to pay for Public Assistance, including Emergency Protective Measure, in New York at a 75% federal to 25% state cost share. However, Schumer argued, New York’s economy has been deeply impacted by the outbreak, leaving it ill-prepared to shoulder the burden of the local share of FEMA aid, warranting an immediate waiver of the state’s portion of this cost share and full, 100% federal financial support.
Schumer’s push comes after New York State Department of Health reported over 170,000 positive cases of COVID-19 and over 7,800 COVID-19 deaths as of April 10th at 1:00PM. To date, New York has been obligated over $1.24 billion from the Disaster Relief Fund, which has paid for the conversion of the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center into a temporary hospital, as well as other line items necessary to fighting the outbreak.
Schumer’s letter to President Trump can be found below:
Dear President Trump:
I write today to urge you to provide 100 percent federal funding for any emergency work performed under New York’s March 13 Emergency Declaration and subsequent March 20 Major Disaster Declaration. This is not an unprecedented move, such a waiver was granted after Superstorm Sandy and the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. As the epicenter of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak, New York has felt the impact of this public health crisis more than anywhere else – it has the highest number of diagnosed cases, hospitalization, and deaths – so I urge you grant this waiver as soon as possible.
As of April 10 at 1:00 PM, New York State Department of Health reported over 170,000 positive COVID-19 cases in New York, with over 87,000 in New York City alone. Tragically, the COVID-19 outbreak has already claimed over 7,800 lives in my home state. Moreover, the economic dislocation – including the administration’s decision to delay tax collections – following the shutdown of the economy to impose the necessary social distancing has deeply impacted the state’s and the city’s finances, leaving it ill-prepared to pay the local share of future FEMA aid. It would be much better for the state and the city to focus these resources on maintaining vital services and employment during the crisis, both to cope with the unique challenges in this environment and to stave off an even deeper economic slump. We cannot drag our feet, we need a strong federal response to help New York handle this global pandemic – one that previous administrations of both parties, under both Presidents Bush and Obama, undertook in the public interest.
The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 5121-5207 (the Stafford Act) authorizes you to grant an Emergency Declaration and or a Major Disaster Declaration in the face of a natural catastrophe. On March 13, you issued an Emergency Declaration for New York, as well as for 55 other states, territories, and the District of Columbia; and on March 20, you granted the first-in-the-nation Major Disaster Declaration for the COVID-19 outbreak right here in New York. These declarations opened up the Disaster Relief Fund to New York through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Public Assistance to cover Category B – Emergency Protective Measures, as well as to pay for FEMA’s Crisis Counselling program for individuals. While this was an incredibly important step, this assistance comes at a 75 percent federal to 25 percent state cost share. On March 20, I sent a letter with numerous other Senators calling on you to waive the 25 percent state cost share, and multiple times in the past two weeks we have spoken on the phone about how important this is to me and everyone living in New York. I am writing you again today to urge you to expeditiously provide 100 percent federal funding for any FEMA emergency work performed in New York.
In 44 CFR 206.47, the regulations for adjusting the cost share of qualifying emergency work are outlined in detail. 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. On April 5, Jerome Adam, Surgeon General of the United States, said, “The next week is going to be our Pearl Harbor moment…It’s going to be our 9/11 moment. It’s going to be the hardest moment for many Americans in their entire lives…” Following Superstorm Sandy and the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, former presidents issued the waiver I am requesting now because the damage to our home state was too great. Tragically, this disaster has risen to the level of these horrific disasters of our past and it deserves the same treatment by this administration.
As of April 10, New York has been obligated over $1.24 billion from the Disaster Relief Fund. This has gone to pay for the conversion of the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center into a temporary hospital and additional ambulances, as well as pharmaceuticals and personal protective equipment, among many other line items. While New York has drawn down a significant amount of support from FEMA, due to being the epicenter of the pandemic, it also means the New York is on the hook for more money than any other state.
As the COVID-19 pandemic has reached alarming new levels, our health care system is being strained to the max. Our economy is strained to the max. New York State, doctors and nurses, and all front line workers are putting their lives on the line every single day to fight this disease and save others. Some have become ill, and some have passed away. We need to support them, and so I urge you to expeditiously grant a waiver that provides 100 percent federal funding for all FEMA 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.