Senate Majority Emergency Aid Proposal Was Out of Step with Economists, Local Leaders, and Public Opinion
On Thursday, the Senate defeated Majority Leader McConnell’s (R-KY) proposed $500 billion emergency aid package. Regrettably, NLC could not support the emergency aid proposal because it fell far short of providing the resources that states and localities need to stabilize budgets, manage cases of COVID-19, and restore economic activity. By failing to provide any indication of what the Senate Leader would consider an acceptable funding level for aiding state and local government operations, the legislation also fell short as a reasonable basis for bipartisan, bicameral negotiations.
For months, top economists from around the country have called on Congress to include direct aid to local governments in the next COVID-19 relief package in order to stave off disastrous long-term economic effects of the pandemic and lift our economy out of the current downturn. These economists have made clear that our national economic recovery depends on strong federal support for our cities, towns and villages.
Mayors from across the country have called on Congress and the White House to return to the negotiating table and deliver critical aid to local governments in the next COVID-19 relief package. When Congress was in recess, mayors from cities large and small continued to confront unprecedented budget crunches due to revenue shortfalls and increased costs caused by the ongoing pandemic. While some local leaders have indicated they will have to furlough or lay off essential municipal employees, others are being forced to delay or cancel infrastructure projects that create jobs and support local economic activity.
Local Leaders Agree: Lack of Local Government Aid in the Senate’s Coronavirus Relief Package is Unacceptable
Following the Senate Majority Leader’s prior proposal, the HEALS Act, which included no aid to local governments, municipal leaders from across the country made their voices heard on the vital need for Congress to support cities, towns and villages facing unprecedented budgetary challenges as a result of the bipartisan shutdown of local communities and economies.
Public Opinion Agrees: Poll Shows Vast Majority of Americans Support Aid to Local Governments to Support National Economic Recovery
A recent CNBC/Change Research poll found that more than two-thirds of voters’ support relief for state and local governments facing unprecedented shortfalls due to the pandemic. 69% of voters surveyed at the end of July indicated they support the federal government providing aid to state and local governments that are being forced to cut critical municipal services, cancel job-creating infrastructure projects and lay off essential employees due to fiscal pressures caused by the coronavirus.
House Republicans Agree: Rep. John Katko (R-NY) Leads House GOP Effort to Deliver Direct Aid to Local Governments
U.S. Rep. John Katko (NY-24) led Republican Members of Congress in calling on Congressional leaders to immediately provide direct assistance to local governments in Central New York and across the country. With local governments facing significant revenue shortfalls, Rep. Katko and his colleagues highlighted the urgent need for additional funds to prevent the interruption of essential services and to support emergency responders, sanitation workers, building and repair crews, and other vital workers. Rep. Katko was joined by U.S. Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01), Lee Zeldin (NY-01), Fred Upton (MI-04), Jaime Herrera Beutler (WA-03), Paul Cook (CA-08), Adam Kinzinger (IL-16), Peter T. King (NY-02), Gus M. Bilirakis (FL-12), and David P. Joyce (OH-14).
It is abundantly clear to people everywhere outside the U.S. Senate that federal aid for state and local governments is necessary, non-partisan, and non-controversial. Congressional negotiators should not give up their efforts to deliver emergency aid that the country urgently needs.
About the Author:
Michael Wallace is the Legislative Director for Community and Economic Development at the National League of Cities. Follow him on Twitter @.