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
More than two months after passage of the $2 trillion Cares Act, funding for some key programs to address the economic devastation from the coronavirus is moving out slowly or not at all. Even after the United States added 2.5 million jobs last month, 20 million people remain out of work and federal bureaucracies charged with processing record sums of money to respond to the crisis are struggling to snap into action.

© Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post "In preparing for and responding to this pandemic, status quo bureaucracy is not satisfactory," says Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), vice chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. (Photo by Bonnie Jo Mount/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.

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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.

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.…
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