Source: United States House of Representatives – Congressman Chris Pappas (D-NH)
In September, Pappas co-sponsored legislation to restore emergency funding under Stafford Act declarations for Manchester and other school districts after FEMA suddenly halted reimbursements for PPE and various other COVID-related expense
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman Chris Pappas (NH-01) voted to pass bipartisan legislation that would require FEMA to once again reimburse Manchester and other New Hampshire school districts for PPE and various other COVID-related expenses after the agency suddenly halted reimbursements in September.
Pappas has led the fight in Congress to restore this FEMA funding for school districts in New Hampshire and has been pushing since the start of the pandemic to secure additional federal resources for state, county, and local governments as they deal with decreased revenue and increased expenses.
“With school districts making hard choices about students and teacher safety, we have no more important obligation than to ensure they have the supplies and resources they need to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” said Congressman Chris Pappas. “It was alarming and deeply troubling that FEMA changed course so suddenly this fall to end its reimbursements to local governments for PPE and other essential COVID-19 expenses – essentially leaving our cities and towns to fend for themselves. The legislation we passed in the House today would correct that wrong and also help ease the overall financial burden on state and local government as they deal with unprecedented revenue shortfalls and increased COVID-19 expenses. I remain committed to fighting for additional federal resources for state, county, and local governments as they deal with the health and economic impacts of the pandemic.”
“Throughout COVID-19, the Manchester School District made significant investments in ordering PPE, cleaning supplies, and more. When the decision was made to halt reimbursements for PPE, our school district was left paying $2.2 million in expenses, costs they were told would be covered by FEMA,” said Mayor Joyce Craig. “I want to thank Congressman Pappas for leading the effort in Congress to restore FEMA funding for school districts – which will ensure our schools have the PPE and cleaning supplies to keep our students, educators, and staff safe.”
H.R. 8266, the FEMA Assistance Relief Act of 2020 increases the federal cost-share for FEMA disaster assistance provided for COVID-19 pandemic assistance to 100% and for natural disasters declared in the calendar year 2020 to 90%.
The legislation expands and clarifies the uses of federal disaster assistance provided in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, authorizing states, local governments, and tribes to use emergency funds to pay for the following:
- Increased operating costs as a result of the pandemic, including the cost of operating virtual services and virus testing sites
- Training activities; personal protective equipment for first responders and essential employees;
- Medical equipment and other public health costs;
- Increased costs of operating homeless shelters and providing food to affected individuals
- Backfilling first responder positions
Since the onset of this pandemic, Pappas has recognized the burden this pandemic has placed on localities and pushed for increased state and local aid. In May, he led the call for House leadership to include robust funding for local governments in the next COVID-19 response package, and thanks to his advocacy the Heroes Act includes more than $1.5 billion in direct assistance to New Hampshire localities and $3.5 billion to the state government.
In September, Pappas announced that he co-sponsored legislation to reverse the dangerous decision by FEMA to halt reimbursements for PPE and various other COVID-related expenses incurred by local governments for public schools, public transit, and courthouses. The FEMA Assistance Relief Act of 2020 would help ease financial burdens on states, as well as local and tribal communities that have been granted disaster declarations this year.
In May, Reps. Pappas and Kuster (NH-02) joined with mayors, county commissioners, and town officials from across the state to send a letter to House leadership urging them to ensure local governments have access to federal aid moving forward.