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Lawmakers introduce bill backed by José Andrés to help restaurants, feed vulnerable

Lawmakers introduce bill backed by José Andrés to help restaurants, feed vulnerable
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A bipartisan group of lawmakers on Tuesday introduced a bill supported by celebrity chef José Andrés aimed at helping restaurants and feeding vulnerable populations during the coronavirus pandemic.

The FEMA Empowering Essential Deliveries (FEED) Act would have the federal government pay 100 percent of the cost for state and local governments to work with restaurants and nonprofits to prepare meals for populations including seniors and underprivileged children. 

It would also aim to provide support for businesses and farmers as both struggle during the economic downturn caused by the pandemic. 

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Reps. Mike ThompsonCharles (Mike) Michael ThompsonDemocrats were united on top issues this Congress — but will it hold? House Democrats unveil green tax package The Hill's Coronavirus Report: BIO's Michelle McMurry-Heath says 400 projects started in 16 weeks in biotech firms to fight virus, pandemic unemployment total tops 43 million MORE (D-Calif.), Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) and Rodney DavisRodney Lee DavisGOP divided over Liz Cheney's future Trust between lawmakers reaches all-time low after Capitol riots Cori Bush slams lawmakers who refused to go through metal detector outside House chamber MORE (R-Ill.) and Sens. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisOn The Money: Retail sales drop in latest sign of weakening economy | Fast-food workers strike for minimum wage | US officials raise concerns over Mexico's handling of energy permits Biden scolds Republicans for not wearing masks during Capitol attack Biden and the new Congress must protect Americans from utility shutoffs MORE (D-Calif.) and Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottMcConnell says he's undecided on whether to vote to convict Trump McConnell won't reprise role as chief Trump defender GOP Sen. Tim Scott opposes impeaching Trump MORE (R-S.C.) are partnering to introduce the legislation, they announced in a statement.

Harris, a former 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, celebrated the bill as a way to address increasing food insecurity and support the restaurant and supplier industries. 

“We need to ensure that states have maximum flexibility so that no one goes hungry during this pandemic,” she said in a statement.  

Local partnerships would allow food to be distributed more quickly during the pandemic, Davis said.

“If this pandemic has shown us anything, it’s the need to innovate and that’s exactly what the FEED Act does,” he said.

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The bill would waive the portion of the Stafford Act that typically limits the Federal Emergency Management Agency to paying 75 percent of emergency and disaster expenses. With the federal government fully funding the project, states and local governments can focus on the distribution of food to those in need and financial relief to restaurants, the lawmakers said. 

“When we empower neighbors to care for one another, and restaurants and non-profits to ensure food and nutrition are not forgotten, we give our communities an opportunity to combine response with recovery to create the possibility of a better tomorrow," Andrés said in a statement. 

Andrés joined other political leaders including Rep. Rosa DeLauroRosa DeLauroTim Ryan, Rosa DeLauro giving free coffee and donuts to National Guard stationed at Capitol Trump seeks to freeze .4 billion of programs in final week of presidency House Democrats request cots for National Guard troops stationed in Capitol MORE (D-Conn.), in a letter last week requesting a public-private partnership to develop a food distribution plan to prevent a surplus of food designated for restaurants, schools and hotels. 

President TrumpDonald TrumpCIA chief threatened to resign over push to install Trump loyalist as deputy: report Azar in departure letter says Capitol riot threatens to 'tarnish' administration's accomplishments Justice Dept. argues Trump should get immunity from rape accuser's lawsuit MORE approved an executive order last week to keep meat processing plants operating during the pandemic to avoid meat shortages.