FEMA rejects CNMI's request for waiver of grant's local match requirement


CNMI Gov. Ralph Torres

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has rejected CNMI Gov. Ralph Torre’s request for a waiver of the local match required for Covid-related grants from FEMA.


The governor made his request in March of last year, but the Trump administration waited until the last minute to refuse.


“Based on our review of all of the information available, it has been determined that the increased level of funding you have requested is not warranted. Therefore, I must inform you that your request for a cost share adjustment for this major disaster declaration is denied,” wrote Robert Fenton, who is currently performing the duties of FEMA administrator.


Previously, Fenton was the Administrator for FEMA’s Region IX and has been directly involved with the Commonwealth’s recovery from the 2018 typhoons, as well as the coronavirus.


In his March 2020 letter asking for local cost share waiver, Torres said, “the additional burden of paying the non-federal shared cost when current locally-expended resources in response to Covid-19 have already exceeded the CNMI’s available operating capital will result in curtailment of critical public services.”


The governor specifically mentioned the possibility of defunding the police, and cutting funding for Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, the hospital, the Judiciary and Legislature, and curtailing payment to for utility services to government facilities without help from the Trump administration.


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