Ocasio-Cortez and Rep. Barbara Lee, of California, introduced the COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Act on Tuesday.
The bill would require FEMA to give the families of the deceased $10,000 each to cover costs.
“We know COVID-19 has a disproportionate impact on low-income communities. The absolute least we can do is to help these families bury their loved ones. It is the very core, basic measure of human dignity. And in the richest country in the world, we should be able to allow people to bury their loved ones in dignity,” Ocasio-Cortez said in a statement
FEMA has covered burials in many previous disasters, but so far, President Trump has refused to free up funds to do the same for this pandemic.
“For weeks, the Trump Administration refused to act to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Now, too many families are having their loved ones taken from them suddenly, many times unable to even say a proper goodbye. These families – who are disproportionately black or Latinx – are reeling from grief and economic duress. The last thing they need is to worry about how to pay for the funeral. This pandemic has spread unchecked because of the failures of our federal government; the least we can do for grieving families is help them overcome their financial strain,” said Rep. Lee.
Disbursements of funds would be backdated to January 21, 2020 to account for those that have already been buried.
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