Finkenauer Passes Bipartisan Bills in Committee to Help Derecho Disaster Victims and Improve Support for Childcare

September 30, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Two bills supported by Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer (IA-01) won approval in the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on Wednesday.

The committee passed Finkenauer and Chairman Peter DeFazio’s (D-OR) FEMA Assistance Relief Act of 2020, to increase the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) cost share for recovery efforts in communities impacted by natural disasters in 2020, reducing the financial burden for local authorities and taxpayers. 

The committee also passed Finkenauer’s bipartisan Child Care is Economic Development Act of 2020 to ensure childcare options are part of certain federal grant-funded economic development strategies.

"I want to thank my colleagues on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee for joining me in passing legislation that is so important to folks in Iowa’s First Congressional District,” Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer said. “Many in our community are still recovering from the August derecho, and we must keep doing all we can to help them."

"As we look forward to long-term economic recovery from the derecho and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, child care must be part of the conversation,” Finkenauer said. “Our communities were already dealing with a lack of affordable and quality childcare before these crises, and now we’ve heard more providers will permanently shut their doors. Creating additional, affordable childcare options is essential to growing our economy and creating opportunity in Iowa and across the country." 

FEMA Assistance Relief Act of 2020:

The FEMA Assistance Relief Act of 2020 would help ease financial burdens on states, as well as local and tribal communities, that have been granted Stafford Act Emergency and Major Disaster declarations this year.  

The bill is authored by House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-OR). Finkenauer serves as a member of the committee and is an original cosponsor of the legislation. 

The legislation would: 

  • Adjust the FEMA cost share for all disasters declared in calendar year 2020 to not less than 90 percent federal and 10 percent non-federal — up from the current 75-percent federal cost share; 
  • Adjust the FEMA cost share for all COVID-related declarations to 100 percent federal; and
  • Clarify to FEMA that under the COVID declaration, Congress expects the agency to cover certain expenses for reimbursement — including PPE, disinfection and other services for public schools, public transit and courts. This addresses criticism of FEMA’s recent Public Assistance policy clarification from earlier this month, which excluded PPE and disinfecting for these groups. 

The legislation follows a letter in which Finkenauer requested that the administration waive the 25 percent local cost share for Iowa communities impacted by the derecho.  

Child Care is Economic Development Act of 2020:

The bipartisan Child Care is Economic Development Act of 2020 would help include plans to increase access to affordable, quality childcare in Community Economic Development Strategies (CEDS), making it easier for childcare to be part of the plan for local economic development projects. 

Congressman Jim Hagedorn (R-MN) is a cosponsor of the legislation.

During remarks at Wednesday’s committee markup, Finkenauer said, “We’ve already seen, especially in rural districts like mine, how a lack of affordable and quality care limits growth. Sometimes that’s a mom or dad turning down a promotion, or even leaving the workforce altogether because it’s actually more affordable to stay home with the kids."

Finkenauer’s legislation addresses concerns that lack of childcare options are hurting economic opportunities in Iowa. Iowan Dan Levi, co-chair of the Black Hawk County Child Care Coalition, testified and expressed those concerns in a Small Business Rural Development, Agriculture, Trade, and Entrepreneurship (RATE) subcommittee hearing held this February.