Durbin Statement on President Trump's Federal Emergency Declaration Due to Coronavirus Pandemic

Durbin also urges Senator McConnell to avoid calling back Senators and staff to Washington next week, pass bipartisan coronavirus emergency aid by unanimous consent

CHICAGOU.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) today released the following statement after President Donald Trump issued a federal Emergency Declaration (ED) due to the coronavirus pandemic.  President Trump’s declaration invokes the Stafford Act so states can utilize $42.6 billion currently available in the Disaster Relief Fund (DRF) in their efforts to mitigate the spread of coronavirus and protect public health. 

“I support President Trump’s emergency declaration and strongly urge FEMA to immediately provide emergency protective measures to prevent and mitigate the spread of coronavirus as states request assistance,” Durbin said.  “It is crucial that the Trump Administration employ a whole-of-government approach in responding to the coronavirus pandemic.  This includes working closely with state and local officials, as well as NGOs, and providing necessary resources to those on the frontlines – most importantly at the moment, testing kit supplies.”

Durbin continued, “Now that President Trump has issued an emergency declaration, I urge Senator McConnell to avoid delaying the bipartisan emergency aid needed in the midst of this public health crisis.  The Senate should call and pass the emergency assistance by unanimous consent as soon as it is passed by the House.  Doing this, and moving a short-term FISA extension by consent, can also enable Senators and their staff to focus on helping their states, instead of needless travel back to Washington.  With four Senators already in self-quarantine, our schedule should be sensitive to this public health reality and not include unnecessary travel for members or exposure for our staff.  Senator McConnell, please think about others and their families in the midst of this national public health crisis.”

Earlier this week, Durbin, along with 33 Senators, urged President Trump to immediately consider any disaster declarations so states can utilize the funds available in the DRF in their efforts to mitigate the spread of coronavirus.

Once a federal emergency declaration has been granted, use of the DRF will allow FEMA to provide emergency protective measures to states at a 75 percent federal to 25 percent state cost share for a wide range of eligible expenses and activities.