Sunday, April 26, 2020

Senator Murray Stresses More Work to be Done for Puget Sound Communities Deeply Impacted by COVID-19 Pandemic


Senator Patty Murray's office issued the following:

Apr 24 2020

As more and more Washingtonians are turning to food banks in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and response, Senator Murray heard from King County food bank representatives about how the federal government can help them to support those in need
In a call with a group of Washington state tribal health providers, Senator Murray made clear she would continue fighting for increased funding for tribes and tribal organizations to address the COVID-19 pandemic 
ICYMI: As Washington State Tribes Work to Address Coronavirus, Senator Murray Successfully Secures Major Federal Investments in Tribal Health Care and Other Priorities – MORE HERE
Senator Murray: “I’m fighting in Congress to make sure that the next coronavirus relief package addresses the diverse needs of the Puget Sound region and the entire state”

(Washington, D.C.) – Yesterday, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), the top Democrat on the Senate health committee and a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, met by phone with representatives from food banks and tribal health providers from across King County and the surrounding area to discuss how the federal government can best support them during the on-going COVID-19 pandemic. During a telephone meeting with organizers from local food banks, Senator Murray heard about the dire need for increased food assistance to food banks in order to support local communities, and stressed that she would keep fighting for increased funding for nutrition efforts in Congress’ next coronavirus relief package. In a conversation with the leaders of local organizations that support indigenous communities, Senator Murray emphasized that she is working to build on the more than $10 billion that she helped to secure for tribal health care and other priorities in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act in future relief legislation.  

“As this pandemic continues to take a toll on so many in our state, especially those in traditionally marginalized and underserved communities, the federal government must continue doing its part,” Senator Murray said. “I’m fighting in Congress to make sure that the next coronavirus relief package addresses the diverse needs of the Puget Sound region and the entire state so that all of our families, workers, tribes and more can make it through this crisis.”

Senator Murray began the day with a phone call to representatives from Seattle and King County food banks who are in desperate need of staff, volunteers, and funding to keep up with the increased demand that has arisen during the COVID-19 pandemic. Senator Murray made clear that she is working to expand upon the combined $700 million in funding for The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), which helps food banks purchase food, that she helped secure in previous coronavirus relief packages. Senator Murray also stressed that she would explore changes to TEFAP requirements that are crucial in helping food banks continue to supply local families with meals.
In the afternoon, Senator Murray held a conference call with leaders from service organizations that support local tribal communities to hear about how indigenous communities are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and how she can continue working with them to address the specific challenges they face, including lack of funding for health services and declining revenues and facilities. Senator Murray explained that the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, which is expected to be signed into law today, included $750 million for tribes, tribal organizations, and urban Indian organizations for COVID-19 testing, including for the purchase and administration of tests, as well as laboratory capacity, personnel, contract tracing, and surveillance. Senator Murray reiterated that in addition to the CARES Act, which included $1 billion for the Indian Health Service (IHS) and $8 billion for a tribal relief fund to address costs and lost revenue related to COVID-19, she is fighting to include additional funding for tribes and tribal organizations in the next coronavirus relief package. Senator Murray has also been adamant that as the CARES Act is implemented and funding is distributed, the Trump Administration must consult with tribes and respect tribal sovereignty, as well as the federal government’s trust and treaty responsibilities.