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DeFazio-Led Bill to Reduce Financial Burdens on States and Communities Facing Disasters Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic, including Wildfires and Hurricanes, Passes the House

Nov 17, 2020
Press Release

Today, legislation led by Transportation and Infrastructure Chair Peter DeFazio to ease financial burdens on States, local, and tribal communities that have been granted Stafford Act Emergency and Major Disaster declarations this year, the FEMA Assistance Relief Act of 2020, passed the House of Representatives.

 “This year, Oregon is facing twin crises—the COVID-19 pandemic and catastrophic wildfires,” said Chair DeFazio. “As our state, local, and tribal governments see their public health and emergency management capacities stretched thin or exceeded—and as the tax base continues to be under enormous strain—we must ensure that they have the financial support needed to weather these crises. Decreasing the local disaster cost share for 2020 will save Oregon cities, counties and the State tens of millions of dollars. My legislation would help Oregon communities focus their limited resources on helping the victims of the recent wildfires and the frontline workers battling the pandemic.”

Typically, State, local, tribal, and territorial governments pick up 25 percent of the costs of Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) assistance, but, with their own response costs up and tax receipts down, it’s critical these communities have the resources to respond to multiple crises, including wildfires in the West, hurricanes in the South, and the ongoing pandemic.

To watch Chair DeFazio’s floor speech in support of H.R. 8266, the FEMA Assistance Relief Act of 2020, click here.

Additional Information:

In September 2020, the T&I Committee advanced several bills during a Full Committee markup, including the FEMA Assistance Relief Act to ease financial burdens on states and local governments during emergencies and major disasters. To learn more, click here.

In August 2020, Chair DeFazio joined Chair of the House Committee on Armed Services Adam Smith (D-WA) in leading 68 Members of Congress in pressing President Trump to immediately waive National Guard and FEMA cost-sharing requirements for all States and territories amid the national COVID-19 pandemic response. To read more, click here.

In May 2020, Chair DeFazio, along with several other Congressional leaders, introduced H.R. 6669, the COVID-19 Cost Share Adjustment Relief Act of 2020, legislation to ensure the Federal government pays 100 percent of the costs of COVID-19-related FEMA assistance under the emergency and major disaster declarations granted pursuant to the Stafford Act. The House passed this measure as part of the HEROES Act, which the Senate has failed to act on in over six months. To learn more, click here.

In March 2020, Chair DeFazio joined other Congressional leaders in sending a letter to President Trump urging him to, during the coronavirus pandemic, eliminate the 25 percent cost share that States typically are required to bear under Emergency and Major Disaster declarations. To read the letter, click here.