Congressman Jimmy Panetta. File Photo.
Congressman Jimmy Panetta. File Photo.

Information provided by the Office of Congressman Jimmy Panetta.

In a press release on Nov. 18, the Office of Congressman Jimmy Panetta said the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed his cosponsored FEMA Assistance Relief Act, to ease financial burdens for state, local, tribal, and territorial governments that have received FEMA disaster assistance for emergencies, such as wildfires, in 2020.

According to the release, governments currently receiving FEMA disaster assistance under the Stafford Act are responsible for 25% of associated costs. H.R. 8266 adjusts this federal cost share to ensure communities have the resources necessary to respond to crises along with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Panetta introduced H.R. 8266 with Representatives Peter DeFazio, Mike Thompson, Dina Titus, Nita Lowey and Lucille Roybal-Allard in September.

“COVID-19 has further compounded the challenges the Central Coast faces as we endure a difficult wildfire season,” said Panetta. “My colleagues and I introduced the FEMA Assistance Relief Act to lower financial hurdles, so local leaders can better direct critical resources within our communities in times of crisis.  I commend the passage of our legislation and urge my Senate colleagues to bring it to an immediate vote to improve response and recovery at home and nationwide.”

The release states that the FEMA Assistance Relief Act:

  • Adjusts the FEMA cost share for all Emergencies and Major Disasters declared in calendar year 2020 to not less than 90% federal and 10% non-federal, up from the typical 75% federal and 25% non-federal.
  • Adjusts the FEMA cost share for all COVID-19 related Emergency and Major Disaster declarations to 100% federal.
  • Clarifies to FEMA that under the COVID-19 declarations, the Agency may—and Congress expects—FEMA to cover certain expenses for reimbursement, including personal protective equipment (PPE) and other services for public schools, public transit, and courthouses. This comes on the heels of the current administration pulling funding for critical supplies, like PPE and disinfecting schools.