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President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team has committed to a policy change that will give New York about $2 billion to reimburse state and city governments for COVID-19 expenses, Sen. Chuck Schumer said Thursday.
Schumer (D-NY) will soon be the Senate’s powerful majority leader and had pushed for the boost in funds as Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio cite budget woes caused by the coronavirus.
Schumer directly lobbied Biden and his incoming team, his office said.
Schumer said in a statement that “President-elect Biden is laser-focused on America’s economic recovery, and this recovery begins with tackling the costs states and local governments have incurred in managing the pandemic.”
The allowance for New York and New York City follows a nearly year-long struggle on Capitol Hill with Republicans who refused to approve significant aid to state and local governments, citing the national debt.
Schumer’s office said that “while these funds are meant to help alleviate the mounting local costs associated with the pandemic, they will ultimately help both the City of New York and the State tackle COVID-related budget gaps.”
The New York senator said he persuaded the Biden transition team to boost the percentage of reimbursement for expenses under the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Disaster Relief Fund.
Although the Trump administration allowed significant reimbursement, it put the state and local government on the hook for 25 percent of expenses that qualified for reimbursement.
“Under that declaration and current policy, 75% of NYC and NYS COVID-related expenses are covered by a Disaster Relief Fund (DRF.) Now, the expenses covered will be 100% — and this will deliver roughly $2 billion more to New York within the next several months,” Schumer’s office said.
Schumer previously lobbied outgoing FEMA Director Pete Gaynor to boost reimbursement for costs.
Major costs to the state and local governments include providing childcare for frontline workers, which is expected to cost up to $100 million in New York City through April, according to Schumer’s office.
Schumer said in his statement that “[f]or New York, the costs have been huge and will take years to overcome entirely, but achieving my goal of 100% FEMA cost share to the city and state will mean a sigh of relief for all New Yorkers because these critical dollars will help protect essential services and workers while we deal with badly burdened budgets that have been gut-punched by COVID.”
Schumer said “I am glad we could get this done even before the President-elect is sworn in because it shows how we will be hitting the ground running come January 20th.”
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