NH Delegation Hosts Press Conference on NH Executive Council’s Decision to Reject $27M in Vaccine Funding
(Washington, DC) – Today, U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Representatives Annie Kuster (NH-02) and Chris Pappas (NH-01) held a virtual press conference with health care stakeholders and discussed the consequences of the New Hampshire Executive Council’s decision to reject $27 million in federal vaccine funding.
Two weeks ago, all Republican members on the Executive Council doubled down on their vote to reject funding that’s already been allocated to New Hampshire to bolster the state’s vaccination efforts. The delegation discussed how this rejection of critical funds hampers efforts across the state to turn the page on this crisis, particularly as COVID cases and hospitalizations continue to surge in New Hampshire.
“New Hampshire is one of four states with the highest numbers of infection rates…We need help, and sadly what we saw from the Executive Council was a total disregard for the safety of the residents of New Hampshire,” said Senator Shaheen in the press conference. “The reality is – we’ve done our jobs. The federal delegation got the money that the State of New Hampshire said it needed. And when the federal government wasn’t forthcoming with what the state said it needed, we went back and we got those additional funds. Now it’s time for the Governor and the Republican Executive Councilors to do their jobs and to protect the health and safety of the people of this state.”
"COVID-19 is continuing to rage in our state and across the country. In New Hampshire, we’re still seeing hundreds of new cases on a daily basis -- and sadly, we continue to see new deaths," said Senator Hassan. “We have to keep our pedal on the gas and continue increasing our state’s vaccination rate, that's why the decision by the Executive Council to reject this $27 million in federal funding is so misguided and so dangerous...DHHS Commissioner Shibinette said the rejection of these funds will delay our state’s efforts to vaccinate children, which is devastating to families across New Hampshire, who are anxiously waiting to better protect their children."
“As COVID-19 cases are rising throughout New Hampshire — including in our schools — and hospitalizations are at the highest rates since vaccines became widely available, it was shameful for the Republican-led majority on New Hampshire’s Executive Council to reject $27 million in federal support our Delegation championed to enhance vaccination efforts and put this virus behind us,” said Rep. Annie Kuster. “Granite Staters have worked so hard to protect themselves, their families, and their communities throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and this vote was a failure to the people of New Hampshire. The federal delegation did our part in securing this funding to ensure everyone who wants a vaccine is able to receive it, and I will continue to be a strong voice for the Granite State in Washington.”
“This is an incredibly important moment for our state. Last week we hit more than 200 individuals in the hospital due to COVID-19, and as we head into some tough winter months we know that the virus has a chance of making a significant resurgence,” said Rep. Chris Pappas. “We have to use every tool and resource at our disposal to stay ahead of this virus, and we need to make sure that we're backing our health care professionals up with a vaccination strategy that's going to deliver more vaccines and booster shots to the people of New Hampshire. This vote by the Executive Council is a dangerous vote that compromises our overall COVID-19 strategy. Despite this, I’ll continue fighting to get every resource we can out to our public health system and our providers and make sure we are confronting this pandemic head on.”
You can watch the full recording here.
Senators Shaheen and Hassan have led in securing critical funds to address the COVID crisis in New Hampshire. They previously urged Congressional leaders to provide robust funding to ensure the swift distribution of COVID-19 vaccines as a part of the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act signed into law in December. Ahead of the CARES Act, they also pushed Congressional leaders to include funding to help New Hampshire and other states address variants of COVID-19. Additionally, the Senators joined an effort in calling for Congress to fix discrepancies that caused small and rural states to receive significantly less funding for vaccines and testing than originally estimated. In the emergency relief package signed into law in December, small and rural states received significantly less funding for testing and vaccinations than expected due to a population-based formula that does not accommodate the unique challenges faced by small and rural states. The Senators also sent a letter with a bipartisan group of Senators to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) regarding the formula used to distribute federal funding to states for COVID-19 vaccine administration efforts, which left smaller states at a distinct disadvantage. The Senators requested that the CDC use available discretionary funds to bolster funding for states like New Hampshire.