Lawmakers slam President Trump over FEMA funding cut for MTA, school cleaning

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- New York lawmakers are slamming the Trump Administration over what it calls efforts to undermine the fight against COVID-19 in the subways, buses and schools.

Senator Charles Schumer says a FEMA policy change will take away coronavirus funds used to disinfect mass transit, schools and other public facilities.

He says the state has received $1.3 billion since March and is expecting to receive more, but the change is set to take effect on September 15.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said he spoke with FEMA Administrator Pete Gaynor Friday.

"(I) made clear that these rule changes are unacceptable," he said. "This is not just some bureaucratic adjustment, this will fundamentally undermine New York City's recovery and our fight against COVID-19. There are no good answers or excuses for taking away support for our frontline workers, first responders, teachers, schoolchildren and so many more New Yorkers. We will fight this with everything we have, and we will continue to keep New Yorkers safe, especially in the face of continued recklessness from the White House."

The city is working with Schumer and the New York congressional delegation, as well as other cities and states across the country to fight back this rule. Officials estimated the possible damage to New York City to be between $350 million to over $1 billion.

"The president is telling essential workers that he does not value their safety or their sacrifices over the last six months," New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said. "Make no mistake, this is just another attempt by President Trump to hurt New York. We won't be bullied."

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FEMA responded that the funds were for emergency events only.

"Normal operation of schools and other public facilities are not emergency protective measures, so FEMA would not provide funding for these activities in these circumstances," the agency said.

MTA Chairman and CEO Patrick Foye also released a statement.

"The message from this latest punitive measure, coupled with the federal government's inexplicable failure to provide $12 billion in desperately needed funding is clear -- Washington to MTA customers and employees: Drop Dead," he said. "With this action, the federal government seems intent on starving the economic lifeblood of not just New York, but the nation at a time when the MTA is simply trying to keep people safe during the worst pandemic in a century."

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