2022 Reflections: Building on Federal Advocacy Success


  • Irma Esparza Diggs
December 19, 2022 - (5 min read)

As we look back on 2022, we reflect on a historic year for cities, towns and villages across the country. From a federal standpoint, this year saw the implementation of once-in-a-lifetime investments flowing directly to cities. From the American Rescue Plan Act to the Inflation Reduction Act, local leaders have proven to be valuable partners for investing federal funds where they are needed the most and key players in stabilizing our nation after crisis.  

Championing Federal Investments Locally  

The American Rescue Plan Act State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund program investments meant communities could pay employees premium pay for working during the COVID pandemic, support non-profits helping food and housing insecure residents and keep critical municipal services running. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law created new opportunities for communities to finally tackle projects on long lists of infrastructure needs, from rebuilding crumbling roads and bridges to strengthening water systems. With the new Inflation Reduction Act, municipalities have access to even more clean energy funding and new opportunities to take advantage of tax credits.

These investments are not just game-changing for communities across the country – they are life-changing.

Local leaders understand local problems and can direct these funds where they are needed the most, ensuring federal funds are meeting the needs of people who need it the most and driving our nation’s economic recovery.  

Hear from local leaders on how they were able to use ARPA funds to meet resident needs in their communities: 

The work cities have done by advocating for and utilizing this historic legislation has played a key role in our nation’s recovery coming out of the COVID pandemic crisis. 

 Looking back on this success, we know we can’t stop here. We can see what needs to be done in the future to build on the success of these programs and keep investing in local communities. 

2022 Lessons Learned – Building on Success  

The American Rescue Plan Act and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law are both models for sending money directly to cities, towns and villages. Local leaders know how crucial this funding style is. It allows communities direct access to funds that otherwise would have been delegated through the state, arriving piecemeal to municipalities or perhaps not at all. Sometimes, cities are pitted against each other to compete for State-delegated funds, leaving smaller communities in the dust.   

Local leaders understand the needs of their residents better than anyone. When direct federal funding is sent to municipalities, it can be invested where it is needed the most. For example, when considering how to spend ARPA funds, local leaders engaged residents and community advocates to determine how best to spend the funding and how to make the biggest impact. 

This past year has proven that not only is this model a successful way of ensuring money is directed to help people who need it the most, but that cities are responsible stewards of federal funding.  

Maximizing the Opportunities  

For local leaders, these new opportunities also mean new challenges. Local leaders need to know how to navigate and leverage federal opportunities to maximize investments to their communities, and how to meet reporting and compliance guidelines. 

NLC is here not just to advocate for what your city needs, but to help you implement those funds when the time comes. Over the past year, NLC has connected our members to federal leaders, policy experts, and other local leaders to learn best practices about how to use federal funds and how to remain in compliance.  

Here are some key resources from the past year to help you navigate federal opportunities: 

What’s Next?   

The work doesn’t stop here. As the 118th Congress kicks off in January, we’ll be hitting the ground running continuing our advocacy for cities, towns and villages, and supporting legislation that builds on the successes of the past year.

You can be a part of that advocacy by sharing your stories with NLC and joining us at the Congressional Cities Conference on March 26-28 in Washington, D.C. There, you will have opportunities to learn from experts and other local leaders, meet directly with federal agencies, and share your stories with your Congressional delegation.

We hope you will join us – we have a lot of work to do for cities, towns and villages in 2023 and we are not slowing down now.

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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.