April 20, 2020

Mass. Congressional Delegation Urge Trump Administration to Fully Fund COVID-19 Response in Commonwealth

Lawmakers Ask FEMA to Waive Local Cost-Sharing Requirements for Major Disaster Assistance

Text of Letter (PDF)

Boston, MA - United States Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Edward J. Markey (D-MA), along with Representatives Richard E. Neal (D-MA-01), James P. McGovern (D-MA-02), Stephen F. Lynch (D-MA-08), William Keating (D-MA-09), Joseph P. Kennedy III (D-MA-04), Katherine Clark (D-MA-05), Seth Moulton (D-MA-06), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA-07) and Lori Trahan (D-MA-03), sent a letter to President Trump urging him to direct the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to waive all of the traditional cost-share requirements for major disaster assistance.

The lawmakers' letter follows the Trump Administration's approval of Massachusetts' request for a major disaster declaration due to the ongoing novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

"On behalf of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and its residents, we respectfully urge you to direct FEMA to increase the federal cost-share to one hundred percent and waive all applicable cost-sharing requirements related to the COVID-19 pandemic disaster," the lawmakers wrote.

While federal disaster funding typically requires a 25% state and local cost-sharing match, the growing public health costs and accelerating economic collapse caused by the COVID-19 pandemic will undoubtedly result in dramatic shortfalls to state and municipal revenues. The federal government has waived these matching costs during other national emergencies, including the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Additionally, recent studies projected a "dramatic collapse" in revenue for Massachusetts, estimating a tax revenue shortfall of $1.8 billion to $3 billion over the next 15 months. 

"The scope and costs of the COVID-19 disaster is unparalleled and our state desperately needs more federal assistance," the lawmakers continued. "Waiving the federal cost share will allow Massachusetts to continue to devote precious resources towards our health care infrastructure."

Since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, Senator Warren has pressed the Trump Administration to respond effectively to deliver the robust set of resources needed to address this public health emergency, including by supporting the state's request for a major disaster declaration. She unveiled detailed plans to increase diagnostic testing nationwide, has consistently sounded the alarm over the Trump administration's failure to deliver federal support for testing and care in Massachusetts, and has repeatedly called on Congress to force the Trump Administration to fully use the Defense Production Act to produce badly-needed medical supplies, including ventilators. Last week, Senator Warren urged the Federal Reserve to reconsider the arbitrary population requirements that lock most cities and counties out of budget relief under the CARES Act, and called for state, local, and tribal governments to receive dedicated, flexible funding in the next COVID-19 emergency funding package.