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Source: United States House of Representatives – Congresswoman Angie Craig (MN-02)

Current guidance disqualifies purchases of protective equipment such as masks, gloves and plexiglass partitions from reimbursement

WASHINGTON, DC – In a letter to local elected officials throughout Minnesota’s Second Congressional District, U.S. Representative Angie Craig informed leaders that she had signed onto a letter urging the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to clarify guidance on the process by which COVID-19 related expenses are deemed eligible for reimbursement. Under current guidelines, state and local governments are unable to be reimbursed for the purchase of many necessary protective products such as masks, gloves and plexiglass partitions. In her letter, Rep. Craig described that guidance as “careless,” and assured local leaders that one of her top priorities in Congress is ensuring that cities and counties have access to the resources necessary to mitigate the costs of the COVID-19 public health and economic crisis.

“During these difficult times, it is the responsibility of the federal government to ensure that our city and county governments have the funds necessary to combat the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Representative Craig. “Unfortunately, the careless guidance provided by FEMA has left local governments across Minnesota with an unnecessary financial burden simply for investing in resources to keep their constituents safe. I am proud to stand up for our cities and counties in the Second District and will continue to do everything in my power to ensure that our elected officials can continue providing essential services in their communities without stretching their budgets thin.”

In addition to pressing FEMA to clarify their reimbursement rules, Rep. Craig has also cosponsored legislation requiring FEMA to provide full federal funding for virus-related emergency aid to state and local governments. That bill, which passed the House in November, would allow local governments constrained by balanced budget requirements, to invest in the programs and resources necessary to protect their communities throughout the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Text of the letter is copied below and available here.

Dear Local Leader,

As we enter the tenth month of combatting COVID-19 and its complex repercussions, I want to thank you for your continued leadership and dedication to providing essential services in your community. By continuing to work together, we will get through this difficult chapter. 

One of my top priorities in Congress is to ensure our cities and counties have the necessary funds and resources to mitigate the unexpected costs of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

That is why I recently signed onto a letter to the Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in response to their careless guidance on the process by which COVID-19 related expenses are deemed eligible for reimbursement under the Stafford Act and 44 CFR, the implementing regulation. 

Under FEMA’s current guidance and new definitions of “emergency protective measure” and “public facility,” many necessary purchases such as masks, plexiglass partitions, gloves and additional maintenance staff shifts for cleaning will be disqualified from reimbursement. I am requesting clarifying guidance to broaden reimbursable expenses and to centralize the reimbursement process.

In addition, I cosponsored H.R. 8266, the FEMA Assistance Relief Act of 2020 which passed the House on November 17th. This bill would require FEMA to provide full federal funding for virus-related emergency aid. This will save recipients money as they continue to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and its many repercussions.

I will continue to push for relief to ensure our communities withstand this pandemic and your budgets do not take massive hits. Please feel free to reach out to my office with any questions or concerns.