Shaheen, Hassan Urge President Trump to Grant Disaster Declarations to Provide Emergency Funds to Aid State & Local Gov’t Coronavirus Response

March 12, 2020

Shaheen and Hassan have been sounding the alarm on the need for additional federal funding and access to public information in preparation for the spread of the Coronavirus.

(Washington, DC)— U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) joined a group of Senators last night in a letter to President Trump, urging the President to immediately consider any disaster declaration requests so states can utilize the $42.6 billion currently available in the Disaster Relief Fund in their efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and protect public health. The Senators wrote that as the number of confirmed cases increases across the United States, the Trump administration must employ a whole-of-government approach, including the use of un-tapped Disaster Relief Fund money, and close collaboration with state, local and tribal officials and providing necessary resources to those on the frontlines. 

In the letter, the Senators noted that were a disaster declaration granted, use of the Disaster Relief Fund would allow FEMA to provide emergency protective measures to the state at a 75 percent federal to 25 percent state cost share for a wide range of eligible expenses and activities. The Senators emphasized that the challenges of community spread have already begun to strain state and local government responses, particularly health departments. 

The Senators are calling on the Trump administration to utilize the $40+ billion dollars in the Disaster Relief Fund to assist state and local governments in providing critically needed emergency protective measures to prevent and mitigate the spread of disease, save lives and protect public health and safety. Declaring a national emergency under the Stafford Act would also provide authority for the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to waive certain interstate physician licensure rules and other requirements that prevent health care providers from being able to be nimble and fast-acting in their response to the Coronavirus. 

The letter is also signed by Senators Schumer (D-NY), Murray (D-WA), Peters (D-MI), Baldwin (D-WI), Markey (D-MA), Blumenthal (D-CT), Durbin (D-IL), Brown (D-OH), Duckworth (D-IL), Booker (D-NJ), Cantwell (D-WA), Whitehouse (D-RI), Rosen (D-NV), Schatz (D-HI), Murphy (D-CT), Casey (D-PA), Cardin (D-MD), Kaine (D-VA), Cortez Masto (D-NV), Warren (D-MA), Feinstein (D-CA), Wyden (D-OR), Reed (D-RI), Leahy (D-VT), Klobuchar (D-MN), King (I-ME), Menendez (D-NJ), Hirono (D-HI), Stabenow (D-MI), Merkley (D-OR), Harris (D-CA), Carper (D-DE), Gillibrand (D-NY) and Sinema (D-AZ). 

The Senators’ letter to President Trump can be found here. 

Shaheen and Hassan have been sounding the alarm on the need for additional federal funding and access to public information in preparation for the spread of the Coronavirus. This week, Shaheen and Hassan pushed Trump administration officials to provide necessary support to students and workers impacted by the Coronavirus. Both Senators supported bipartisan government funding legislation to help states’ response efforts, which was signed into law. The CDC disbursed the $4.9 million funds for New Hampshire included in that funding package earlier this week. Further, Shaheen joined a group of 25 Senators earlier this month, calling on the National Security Council (NSC) to address and coordinate administration efforts in response to the Coronavirus and other global health security threats.