Food banks and other key programs have received a fraction of allotted coronavirus money, angering some lawmakers

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Food banks and other key programs have received a fraction of allotted coronavirus money, angering some lawmakers  The Washington Post
The Cares Act directed $850 million for food banks, but less than $300 million has been sent out so far, according to Democratic staff members on the Senate Appropriations Committee. That's despite unprecedented demand, with the number of people served at food banks increasing by more than 50 percent from a year ago, according to a recent survey by the nonprofit group Feeding America.

Similarly, Congress appropriated $9 billion in March for the Community Development Block Grant and Emergency Solutions Grant programs, which fund health facilities, child care centers, and services for seniors and homeless people, among other things. Only about $250 million of that money has been obligated.

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In another example, $100 million dedicated specifically to help nursing homes certify compliance standards for issues like infection control remains unspent two months after it became law as part of the Cares Act. Another $100 million to help ensure access to broadband for Americans in rural parts of the country also remains unspent.

A separate $100 million appropriation to help the Federal Emergency Management Agency purchase personal protective equipment for firefighters also hasn't been spent. Additionally, less than half the $16 billion Congress dedicated over four separate pieces of legislation to bulking up critical medical supplies in the Strategic National Stockpile has been spent, according to the Democrats' calculations.

Democrats are not alleging deliberate foot-dragging by the Trump administration, even though a political fight has developed over how quickly to act on the next relief bill. Instead, Democrats say that the federal bureaucracy is not rising to the challenge and acting with the urgency that a crisis of unprecedented magnitude demands.

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"In preparing for and responding to this pandemic, status quo bureaucracy is not satisfactory. It is clear evidence that President Trump has failed to meet this urgent challenge, and it is up to Congress…
Erica Werner
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