WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), who has led a years-long effort to reform how the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) responds to disasters since Superstorm Sandy devastated New Jersey in 2012, announced today that nearly an additional $300 million in federal COVID relief has been unlocked for New Jersey after FEMA answered his call to eliminate the cost-sharing requirements for disaster grants.  The directive issued by President Biden allows states and local governments to be retroactively reimbursed at 100% for eligible expenses to combat COVID-19 incurred since Jan. 2020, and to apply for full reimbursement for additional eligible expenses going forward. 

New Jersey has already received $846,934,804 in FEMA disaster assistance to help support the state’s efforts to combat COVID-19, but Sen. Menendez successfully argued that New Jersey’s communities not be burdened with the 25% so-called “local cost-share” that is normally required.

“Eliminating FEMA’s required local cost-share means New Jersey will get hundreds of millions more in federal funding to help our state, counties and towns defeat the pandemic, support our hospitals and schools, purchase vital personal protective gear, and ramp up vaccinations.  It also allows the state to focus its already limited resources on other immediate needs to protect and serve our residents,” said Sen. Menendez.  “I want to thank President Biden for doing what his predecessor refused to do to help frontline states like New Jersey combat COVID-19.  Elections do have consequences and we finally have a leader in the White House willing to take on these tough challenges head-on instead of passing the buck onto states and local communities.” 

In May, Sen. Menendez led bipartisan legislation to eliminate cost-share payments required of states and communities included in federal disaster declarations in 2020.  He also led bipartisan requests from both the New Jersey congressional delegation and his Senate colleagues calling on President Trump to completely eliminate the local cost-sharing for FEMA disaster grants.  Sen. Cory Booker joined him in those efforts.

“New Jerseyans have made incredible sacrifices in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic and should not be left with the additional burden of revenue loss to our communities, so this is welcome news from FEMA,” said Sen. Booker.  “As state and local governments across our country face the possibility of slashing their budgets and cutting off vital services, we need the support of the federal government now more than ever.  I was proud to join Senator Menendez and our entire delegation in this fight to ensure New Jersey receives the relief we desperately need in responding to this ongoing heath crisis, and I thank President Biden for standing with us in this effort.”

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act that Congress passed in March included $45 billion for the FEMA Disaster Relief Fund to help states provide for immediate needs and essential services to protect citizens and recover from the outbreak.  Congress has since authorized additional funding.  New Jersey was included in the President’s Major Disaster Declaration, making the state eligible for FEMA Public Assistance (PA) grants.

Under President Biden’s directive, all work eligible under FEMA’s existing COVID-19 policies, including increasing medical capacity, non-congregate sheltering, and emergency feeding distribution will now be reimbursed at 100% federal share.  For projects that have already been approved, FEMA will amend the existing awards to adjust the federal funding amounts. 

Additionally, FEMA will expand the activities eligible for reimbursement for work conducted after Jan. 21, 2021 and until Sept. 30, 2021 to include the costs to support the safe opening and operation of eligible schools, child-care facilities, healthcare facilities, non-congregate shelters, domestic violence shelters, transit systems, and other eligible applicants.  This may include funding to provide personal protective equipment and disinfect services and supplies. These costs will also be reimbursed at 100% federal share.