Local Government Priorities for the Biden-Harris Administration


  • Irma Esparza Diggs
December 15, 2020 - (5 min read)

Today, the National League of Cities is proud to announce the creation of our 2021 Transition Memo and Resources, a set of local government priorities, tools, and shared values to help grow and strengthen the intergovernmental partnership between cities, towns, and villages, the White House and federal agencies in the first 100 days of the Biden-Harris Administration. 

America’s communities faced an unprecedented set of challenges in 2020, and while local leaders have met the moment by efficiently coordinating responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, facilitating meaningful local conversations around racial equity, responding to devastating hurricanes and wildfires and charting a way forward to a national economic recovery, the work must continue in 2021 – and we cannot do it alone. 

Build Back Better by Prioritizing Cities in the Administration’s Agenda  

Local-federal partnership is critical in driving the national economy forward and addressing the issues that keep residents up at night. NLC is the voice for America’s cities, towns and villages – more than 19,000 municipalities of all sizes – and our communities are eager to lead together with the next administration through the values of respect, partnership, inclusion and accountability.   

As a candidate, President-Elect Biden committed to NLC’s 2020 Cities Agenda. While so much has changed since the platform’s creation, the way forward to local economic competitiveness and rebuilding remains the same: Leading Together. NLC recommends the incoming administration adopt the following four priorities in the first 100 days of the new administration:   

  • Building Sustainable Infrastructure  
  • Creating A Skilled Workforce  
  • Ending Housing Instability and Homelessness  
  • Reducing Gun Violence  

America’s communities — rural and urban, small and large — are facing challenges and opportunities across a wide range of issues. As the Administration maps out the next four years, cities, towns and villages are calling on the White House to:  

Prioritize Local Leadership in the White House and Throughout Federal Agencies  

Local elected officials have experience, relationship networks and a knowledge base that can only be gained through years of service shaping local policy and balancing local budgets. Local leaders know what Americans want from their elected leaders because they are the level of government closest to the people. Having local leaders embedded throughout the Administration will help to ensure that programs are managed in a way that reflects the lived reality of communities on the ground and that outside-the-Beltway perspectives are kept front and center.  

Together, we can nurture a strong federal-local partnership, work collaboratively on behalf of the American public, and Lead Together into a stronger, safer, and fairer future for our nation. 

Work Together with Cities Immediately to Halt COVID-19 Damage  

NLC is calling on the Biden-Harris Administration to work alongside local leaders to protect families, municipal workers and America’s economic future in the face of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Local governments have been doing everything in their power to keep communities running – keeping the trash picked up, providing nutritional and housing assistance to vulnerable residents, maintaining critical public safety services without interruption, and much more. However, these same local governments are being forced to slash programs and furlough city staff due to cratering local revenues. Most municipalities still have not received meaningful levels of federal aid to help maintain public health and safety in the face of the pandemic. Cities are essential! 

Set Local Economies on a Path to Economic Recovery  

Together with the Biden-Harris Administration, we can set America’s hometowns on a long-term path to economic stabilization and revitalization. Each year going forward, the Administration and Congress must ensure consistent, full funding for the formula block grant programs that invest in communities directly, including the Community Development Block Grant Program, the Surface Transportation Block Grant Program, the Social Services Block Grant, Homeless Assistance Grants, and the Economic Adjustment Assistance Program. Formula based block grants allocated directly to local governments have consistently proven to be the most efficient and effective means of quickly moving public funds to areas in need of relief, and to at-risk populations. 

Partner with America’s Cities, Towns and Villages  

The National League of Cities looks forward to working with the Biden-Harris Administration on these important issues laid out in our 2021 Transition Memo and on any other challenges or opportunities that arise. Together, we can nurture a strong federal-local partnership, work collaboratively on behalf of the American public, and Lead Together into a stronger, safer, and fairer future for our nation. 

About the Author

Irma Esparza Diggs

About the Author

Irma Esparza Diggs is the Senior Executive and Director, Federal Advocacy at the National League of Cities.