Shaheen to Executive Council on COVID Funds: ‘Do your job’
A visibly angry Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and the New Hampshire's congressional delegation lamented the rejection by the Executive Council of $27 million in federal funds to assist with the state's COVID-19 vaccination effort.
Despite prodding by Gov. Chris Sununu the council voted to reject the funds over concerns that the state would lose its sovereignty and be obligated to follow future mandates from the Biden Administration. Attorney General John Formella's research concluded that was not the case.
"The reality is we've done our job. The federal delegation got the money the state of New Hampshire said it needed. And when the federal government wasn't forthcoming with what the state said it needed, we went back and we got those additional funds," Shaheen said. "Now it’s time for the Governor and the Republican Executive Councilors to do their jobs and to protect the health and safety of the people of this state.”
Shaheen said the delegation has spoken with the Biden Administration and so far has not heard any good options to making up the funds. She said the best option is for the Executive Council to accept the funds.
"It's very disappointing to me that we are here after the congressional delegation fought very hard to get the state of New Hampshire the dollars we heard the governor and administration say that they needed to continue fighting COVID-19," Shaheen said.
We need help, and sadly what we saw from the Executive Council was a total disregard for the safety of the residents of New Hampshire,”
Jim Potter, Executive Vice President of the NH Medical Society said the rejection of the funds also means the state Department of Health and Human Service will not be prepared to administer COVID-19 vaccine to children under the age of 12 when the CDC gives its approval in the next few weeks.
"It's clear they do not have the resources. They're understaffed. They're already financially strained, overworked," Potter said. "On top of that we have the flu vaccines coming in so you have all this effort. These practices desperately need these funds to make this happen for children."
Sen. Maggie Hassan called the council's decision "misguided and dangerous" and also concerned about the delay in vaccinating children once they become eligible.
"This vote by the Executive Council is a dangerous vote that compromises our overall COVID-19 strategy. Despite this, I’ll continue fighting to get every resource we can out to our public health system and our providers and make sure we are confronting this pandemic head on," First Congressional Distrct Rep. Chris Pappas said.
“As COVID-19 cases are rising throughout New Hampshire — including in our schools — and hospitalizations are at the highest rates since vaccines became widely available, it was shameful for the Republican-led majority on New Hampshire’s Executive Council to reject $27 million in federal support our Delegation championed to enhance vaccination efforts and put this virus behind us,” Second Congressional Distrct Rep. Annie Kuster said.