NLC Statement on Release of COVID-19 Relief Package Separating Critical Relief for Local Governments

December 14, 2020

Washington, D.C. – Today, the National League of Cities (NLC) Executive Director and CEO Clarence E. Anthony issued the following statement after bipartisan members of congress released the text of a $908 billion COVID-19 relief package, which includes a separate proposal tying $160 billion in relief for state, local and tribal governments to liability protections:

“While the bipartisan legislation released today highlights the importance of providing emergency relief to local governments, the decision to separate state and local aid into a separate bill at this juncture is not only misguided, but completely ignores the reality our communities are facing right now. We urge Congress to pass the full package, including aid for local governments, as a single bill this week.

“Congressional negotiators have widely acknowledged that passing relief for small businesses, extending unemployment benefits, and dedicating funds for vaccine distribution will be met with little resistance in both chambers. However, by decoupling funding for local governments from other emergency relief, congressional leaders have failed to recognize that local governments play a direct and critical role in implementing all of the measures included in the package. Washington cannot simply pass a large stimulus package with low-hanging fruit and expect local governments to pick up the tab to implement those plans as they continue to face unprecedented revenue losses and increased expenditures due to the pandemic.

“As local leaders actively work to put in place the infrastructure needed to ensure widespread distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine and manage record-high caseloads, Congress cannot simply kick the can down the road again and delay aid to local governments until next year. Our cities, towns and villages need federal support now to ensure widespread, effective, and equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines and to roll out other critical programs that will protect local jobs and save lives in the coming months.”

NLC launched the Cities Are Essential campaign in May, calling on the federal government to ensure there is flexible, direct funding relief provided to America’s municipalities in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

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The National League of Cities (NLC) is the voice of America’s cities, towns and villages, representing more than 200 million people. NLC works to strengthen local leadership, influence federal policy and drive innovative solutions. Stay connected with NLC on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.