Mass Delegation Ask FEMA to Waive Local Cost-Sharing Requirements for Major Disaster Assistance During COVID-19 Crisis

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The following is a media release from Sen. Ed Markey and Sen Elizabeth Warren’s offices. Both were elected by voters in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to serve the state in Washington DC in the US Senate. Both are Democrats.

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BOSTON – 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.”

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