Today, Harlem’s Representatives Adriano Espaillat and Yvette D. Clarke, in collaboration with Representatives Jerry Nadler, Nydia Velázquez, Gregory Meeks, Grace Meng, Carolyn Maloney, Max Rose and Kathleen Rice, sent a letter to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) urging the agency to immediately reverse the recent interim policy decision “COVID-19 Pandemic: Work Eligible for Public Assistance.”
Under the new policy, FEMA has stopped assisting state and local governments with many COVID-19 safety measures such as PPE acquisition, professional disinfectants, and plexiglass barrier installation, outside of select emergency facilities.
As a result, many schools, community centers, transit agencies, and countless other essential service providers are no longer eligible for federal reimbursement of their face mask purchases and other resources.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, and up until just a few weeks ago, FEMA was reimbursing many of these costs. This sudden policy reversal puts the health of all New Yorkers at risk – especially as the reopening of schools and colder weather draws additional people indoors and into facilities no longer eligible for PPE reimbursements. The timing of this new policy is particularly devastating for New York City, given our current surge in positivity rates.
FEMA must recognize the great injustice of cutting support for common-sense safety measures in the midst of a global pandemic and reverse this policy immediately.
Espaillat said, “The Trump Administration’s coronavirus response has been a catastrophic failure across the board while costing hundreds of thousands of lives, millions of jobs, and our way of life. FEMA’s decision to cut federal reimbursement for personal protective equipment (PPE) and sanitization of New York’s schools and subways is one of the most punitive and unjustifiable policy reversals I have witnessed during my decades of public service.”
“For the President to zealously urge cities and states to reopen schools and businesses, only to then cut the vital support that allows them to do so safely is un-American and directly threatens the health and safety of New York City’s educators, commuters, first responders, students, and their families.” Espaillat stated.
Espaillat said, “I commend Congresswoman Clarke’s leadership and partnership on this letter, which was signed by several members of the New York Congressional delegation and calls on FEMA to immediately reinstate federal reimbursements for COVID-related programs.”
Clarke said, “By now it should be abundantly clear: we will be dealing with the ramifications of this virus for many months to come. Now is not the time to pull the rug out from beneath Americans – including New York’s teachers, transit workers, and other essential workers who need PPE to stay safe and stop the spread. We must come together as a nation if we are to heal. Therefore I urge FEMA to reverse this policy and continue reimbursement for COVID-19 related expenditures nationwide.”
Read the letter in its entirety further detailing the need to contain the virus and treat those affected.
First elected to Congress in 2016, Rep. Adriano Espaillat is serving his second term in Congress where he serves as a member of the influential U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, and the House Small Business Committee.
He serves as a Senior Whip of the House Democratic Caucus and is a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) where he also serves in a leadership role as CHC Whip.
He is also chairman of the CHC Task Force for Transportation, Infrastructure and Housing. Rep. Espaillat’s Congressional District includes Harlem, East Harlem, northern Manhattan and the north-west Bronx. To find out more about Rep. Espaillat, visit online at https://espaillat.house.gov/.