WASHINGTON, D.C. — Senators Mazie K. Hirono and Brian Schatz, and Representatives Tulsi Gabbard and Ed Case wrote to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Peter Gaynor, calling on him to reconsider recent policy changes that prevent state and local governments and private nonprofit organizations from receiving reimbursements for critical purchases like personal protective equipment (PPE), coronavirus testing equipment and other supplies and services in non-medical settings.
Citing the $1 million a month that Hawai‘i Department of Education (HIDOE) alone spends on PPE and disinfecting supplies with classrooms partially full, the lawmakers detailed the damaging budgetary impacts Hawaii and other states face with this policy change and how it will negatively impact the state’s ability to restore essential services.
“We write to urge you to reconsider recent policy changes made by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that severely limit expenses eligible for reimbursement through the Public Assistance Program.
FEMA’s recent policy change hamstrings Hawai‘i’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. State and local governments in Hawai‘i 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,” The lawmakers continued.