Lawmakers urge FEMA to reconsider policy changes

Hawaii’s Congressional delegation has urged the Federal Emergency Management Agency to reconsider policy changes that limit the COVID-related expenses eligible for reimbursement through the Public Assistance Program.

U.S. Sens. Mazie Hirono and Brian Schatz and U.S. Reps. Ed Case and Tulsi Gabbard called on FEMA Administrator Peter Gaynor to reconsider the recent policy changes that prevent state and local governments and nonprofit organizations for receiving reimbursements for the purchase of personal protective equipment, coronavirus testing equipment and other supplies and services in non-medical settings.

Citing the $1 million a month the state Department of Education alone spends on PPE and disinfecting supplies, the lawmakers detailed the budgetary impacts Hawaii and other states face with the policy change.

“FEMA’s recent policy change hamstrings Hawaii’s effort to reopen safely, making it more difficult for state and local governments to provide essential services during the pandemic and for businesses, nonprofits and schools to operate,” the lawmakers wrote.

“This policy change negatively affects governmental services ranging from public transportation to election services,” they continued. “State and local governments in Hawaii and throughout the nation are working tirelessly to maintain essential services during the pandemic. Their efforts to do so are already hindered by declining revenues that have been felt nationwide. During these challenging times, we urge you to support their efforts by reversing the restrictions put in place by FEMA’s updated policy.”

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