NH delegation announces $147 mil. contained in COVID-19 relief bill

The state’s congressional delegation said New Hampshire will get at least $147 million in additional grants from the $2 trillion COVID-19 relief act President Trump signed late last week. This is in addition to the $1.25 billion, all-purpose grant the state is receiving to cover costs fighting the epidemic. Here, State Epidemiologist Dr. Benjamin Chan speaks at a media briefing earlier this month on the coronavirus with to his left U.S. Sens. Maggie Hassan and Jeanne Shaheen, U.S. Reps. Annie Kuster and Chris Pappas, and Gov. Chris Sununu.

The record $2 trillion federal coronavirus bill will provide New Hampshire another $147 million in specific grants for services ranging from education and mass transit to low-income heating assistance and state election expenses, according to the state’s congressional delegation, according to the state’s congressional delegation.

The grants come on top of $1.25 billion New Hampshire will receive under the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act, the minimum COVID-19 grant going to all states.

U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., was a lead negotiator in that part of the final bill, which will produce a record $377 billion to encourage small business owners to stay in operation and keep workers on their payrolls.

“Throughout this crisis, delivering desperately needed assistance to the Granite State has been my top priority,” Shaheen said in a statement.

“During negotiations, I was adamant that this bipartisan legislation help our state and local communities as Granite Staters work around the clock to respond to the spread of COVID-19. This funding will provide needed relief to our schools, public transit, health care workers, law enforcement and many other areas. This crisis is impacting every aspect of our society which is why state and local officials need these resources as soon as possible to protect local communities. I’m urging the Trump administration to quickly distribute this funding to our state, as time is of the essence.”

“This pandemic is taking an unprecedented toll on public health and our economy, and our communities need substantial support for everything from medical supplies to child care and public transit,” said Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., a member of the Senate committee on homeland security. “This additional funding will help address some of the most pressing needs for our families and communities. We will keep working together as a congressional Delegation and with the governor to get critical funding and supplies to those on the frontlines and communities across our state.

U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster, D-N.H., who serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, was an outspoken advocate of the federal government taking over the medical supply chain to deliver ventilators and other life-saving equipment to communities and states that need it most.

“The coronavirus outbreak has upended normal daily life in New Hampshire and across the country,” Kuster said. “This additional funding will help sustain our communities and crucial aspects of our society, such as public transit, and ensure our valiant public health care workers have the childcare they need to save lives during this crisis. I’ll continue to actively monitor COVID-19 cases in New Hampshire and work to ensure our state has the resources it needs to adequately respond to this pandemic.”

Rep. Chris Pappas, D-N.H., who serves on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, had pressed in his own legislation for some of the small business incentives in the final bill. Pappas and Kuster hosted three telephone town halls with constituents about COVID-19.

“New Hampshire needs every available resource to fight this virus, bolster our state and local response and support our communities through this difficult time,” Pappas said. “There is not one corner of our state or part of our daily lives that has not been affected been by this pandemic, and it is crucial that federal funds allocated to New Hampshire get to those who need them as quickly as possible. These are unprecedented times, and we must work together to realize a whole of government response that will keep people safe and keep our communities strong.”

The $147 million in grants the state will receive under the CARES Act breaks down like this:

• Education: $82.47 million, including $37.6 million for elementary and secondary schools, $36 million for higher education and $8.9 million for the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund.

• Public transit: $37.8 million, including grants for commuter bus companies.

• Child care: $6.94 million, which Shaheen had pushed for in separate legislation to support child care for health care workers.

• Public health emergency preparedness: $5.45 million.

• Low-income heating aid: A $5.54 million increase in grants the state already receives to subsidize the cost of winter heat for income-eligible families and seniors.

• Law enforcement: $4.4 million, which includes prison visitor protection and grants for first responders.

• State election assistance: $3.26 million.

• Humanities grants: $427,000 that augments what the state already receives in federal grants that support arts and humanities.

• Manufacturing: $300,000 through a targeted grant program.

Shaheen said additional grants through the CARES Act and other COVID-19 response legislation will be announced as they become available.

Earlier in March, New Hampshire received $4.9 million in initial grants to prepare for the pandemic.