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Letter to President-Elect Joe Biden - Feinstein, Reed, Colleagues Call for FEMA Cost-Sharing Waiver To Help States Combat COVID-19


Dear President-elect Biden:

We write to urge you to take immediate action upon assuming office to grant pending requests to waive the 25% non-federal cost share requirement for FEMA assistance related to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Notwithstanding the assistance provided under the CARES Act, the Consolidated Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2021, and other federal relief packages, state, local, and tribal governments continue to struggle to meet the fiscal challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic. For this reason, most states and leading national organizations, including the National Governors Association, National Conference of State Legislatures, National League of Cities, National Association of Counties, the United States Conference of Mayors, and the Council of State Governments, have requested or supported relief from FEMA's cost share requirements.

We were heartened in recent weeks by your reaffirmation that you intend to provide 100% federal cost share for National Guard personnel who are operating under Title 32 mission assignments in response to the pandemic. That is an appropriate and welcome step for those states that have relied on the National Guard in this effort. It would be similarly appropriate to extend relief for all FEMA assistance provided in the course of the pandemic and to consider cost share relief for other federally declared disasters that occurred in 2020.

COVID-19 has upended life for many Americans, and state, local, and tribal governments have faced the dual challenges of unexpected costs and declining revenues. Increasing the federal cost share for FEMA assistance will give them the budgetary space to effectively respond to the ongoing health and economic hardship the pandemic has created.

As you know, only one official -- the President -- has the authority to increase the federal cost share for disaster assistance. Because the Trump Administration has so far ignored numerous requests for this relief, we request that you exercise that authority as expeditiously as possible once you are in a position to do so.

Thank you for your consideration and we look forward to working with you on this and other matters.