This is the 1988 law Trump could use to trigger an 'emergency' response to coronavirus

This is the 1988 law Trump could use to trigger an 'emergency' response to coronavirus
Image via Screengrab.

Passed by Congress during President Ronald Reagan’s second term, the Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act of 1988 was subsequently invoked by President Bill Clinton in 2000. Law & Crime reporter Jerry Lambe explains how that 1988 law might be invoked again — this time by President Donald Trump in response to coronavirus.

Invoking the Stafford Act, Lambe notes, would pave the way for the federal government to give emergency relief to state and local governments under the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) — which is now part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Lambe points out that the Stafford Act is “designed to allow the government to provide orderly systematic assistance to local governments in the aftermath of natural disasters” and “differs from disaster relief funds generally provided following major earthquakes or hurricanes.”

In 2000, Lambe recalls, President Bill Clinton “invoked the Stafford Act to declare a state of emergency in response to the West Nile virus outbreak in the northeast United States in 2000.” And according to Michael Coen (who served as director of FEMA under President Barack Obama), invoking the Stafford Act shows that Trump is finally taking the threat of coronavirus seriously. Coen told NBC News, “To me, this is another indication that the president and the White House are finally aware of the gravity of the situation. They need to consider all tools available to them and have contingencies for action.”

Similarly, Tim Manning, former deputy administrator for FEMA, told NBC News that he finds it “reassuring” that the Stafford Act is being invoked.

The Stafford Act, an amended version of the Disaster Relief Act of 1974, was named after the late Sen. Robert Stafford — who also served as governor of Vermont and was the type of moderate Rockefeller Republican who is hard to find in today’s GOP.

So far, the coronavirus outbreak has caused around 3100 deaths worldwide — six of them in Washington State.

Understand the importance of honest news ?

So do we.

The past year has been the most arduous of our lives. The Covid-19 pandemic continues to be catastrophic not only to our health - mental and physical - but also to the stability of millions of people. For all of us independent news organizations, it’s no exception.

We’ve covered everything thrown at us this past year and will continue to do so with your support. We’ve always understood the importance of calling out corruption, regardless of political affiliation.

We need your support in this difficult time. Every reader contribution, no matter the amount, makes a difference in allowing our newsroom to bring you the stories that matter, at a time when being informed is more important than ever. Invest with us.

Make a one-time contribution to Alternet All Access, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.

Click to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card
Donate by Paypal

Don't Sit on the Sidelines of History. Join Alternet All Access and Go Ad-Free. Support Honest Journalism.