Cities are Essential – The Fight of Our Financial Lives

Today, Congress returns to Washington and the situation for America’s cities, towns and villages is dire. Infrastructure projects have been halted, workers are out of jobs, and more local businesses are closing by the day. Congress needs to feel the urgency and pressure that local officials are feeling. Communities are hurting, and despite the widespread pain across our country, some members of Congress are still refusing to deliver critical support to all communities.

Without a final overwhelming effort by every local elected official over these next few weeks to influence Members of Congress, our federal leaders could leave out direct budget aid to all 19,000 cities, towns and villages in the next coronavirus relief package. We cannot let this happen.

Facing an unprecedented increase in costs and a historic $360 billion-dollar budget shortfall, our local leaders are struggling to provide the essential services we all need to get through this pandemic together.  And so, in March, NLC launched the Cities Are Essential campaign. Our asks have been clear and consistent:

  • $500 billion in direct, flexible funding to each and every local government over the next two years.
  • No population threshold for funding eligibility, unlike in the CARES Act.
  • A fair and equitable allocation of funding to each and every local government, at levels that match their needs, and with minimal burden on the states.
  • Allowing eligible uses of funding to address a broad range of purposes, including public health, economic recovery, emergency payments on behalf of jeopardized residents, municipal budget revenue shortfalls, and technical assistance.

Cities, towns and villages are far more than just where we live — they are the heartbeat of America. Federal relief is critical to advancing the reopening and economic recovery of America, on which thousands of jobs and the livelihoods of American families depend.

Three million critical municipal worker jobs – and all the families that rely on those jobs – are at risk. Local governments will ensure federal funds are immediately used to rebuild the economy we had before the pandemic. Funding will keep middle-class workers employed and critical services operating. Our economic recovery needs us to support the sanitation workers, health care professionals and all the local heroes we take for granted.

Negotiations in Congress are on-going, and we need bipartisan support directed to communities of all shapes and sizes, urban and rural, and of all political stripes. Local governments need more than just flexibility and existing emergency assistance is not going to cut it – we need direct budget aid to all 19,000 cities, towns and villages across the country.

From the beginning of the pandemic, cities have been a part of the response to this grueling health crisis. This is a direct call on Congress to help us to be part of the recovery.

As a nation, we rise together, and so we must rebuild together. Cities are Essential, and American cities, towns and villages have written America’s storied and resilient history. Let’s write the next chapter, together.

Take action TODAY and tell Congress we need direct federal aid now.


About the Author:

Clarence E. Anthony is the CEO & Executive Director of the National League of Cities. Follow him on Twitter: @ceanthony50.