ICYMI: National League of Cities Calls on Congress to Swiftly Approve Direct Aid for Local Governments

February 5, 2021

Washington, D.C. – Yesterday, the National League of Cities (NLC) and its members called on Congress to prioritize relief for local governments on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis, urging swift passage of relief for municipal governments still facing unprecedented revenue shortfalls and increased expenses due to the pandemic.  

71 advocates across 30 states, including NLC leadership, State Municipal Leagues and local officials from across the nation, visited virtually with over 92 Congressional offices to ensure federal representatives understand the urgent needs of municipalities and the consequences of failing to provide relief to local governments in the forthcoming rescue package.  

NLC’s leadership testified before two Congressional committees, educating lawmakers on the critical services that America’s cities, towns and villages are delivering for their residents and articulating how the federal government can better partner with local government to save lives and rebuild America’s battered economy. 

NLC Executive Director and CEO Clarence E. Anthony testified before the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services in a hearing entitled, “More than a Shot in the Arm: The Need for Additional COVID-19 Stimulus.” Anthony made clear that, without federal relief, local governments across the country will be forced to make painful cuts to essential services at a time when residents need municipal services the most: 

“Local elected officials are making painful budget cuts to preserve essential day-to-day operations that sustain cities as economic engines and places of opportunity. Residents are relying more than ever on the safety net programs that local governments are responsible for putting into action.” 

“Local governments are running out of ways to paper over dramatic losses, and when that happens, declines won’t stop with new programs. Declines mean sudden reductions in waste collection and recycling programs, delays in permitting for home construction and renovation, longer wait times for inspections and licensing, reduced services for households that rely on public transit, and indefinitely pausing plans for utility build-out and upgrades to water and sewer lines and broadband infrastructure.” 

“If we really want our economy to get back started, it’s got to start at the local level, and get it done quickly. Our leaders are able to deal with distributions of PPE and the vaccine distribution and education. I know that our mayors and councilmembers from all rural, as well as urban communities, are ready to partner with the federal government to get us back on the right track.” 

To watch Anthony’s full testimony from today’s House Committee on Financial Services hearing, click here. 

Additionally, Los Angeles City Councilmember and NLC Immediate Past President Joe Buscaino testified before the U.S. House Committee on Transportation in a hearing entitled, “Protecting Transportation Workers and Passengers from COVID-19.” Buscaino stressed the critical importance of ensuring prioritized vaccination of frontline maritime workers at the Port of Los Angeles and other major maritime ports in order to sustain America’s supply chain across the country: 

“Any relief Congress passes for cities will be used to continue to support our most valuable asset – our people. America’s communities are proud to have a dedicated and resilient workforce of professional essential workers who have kept everything running, especially those who are part of our national supply chain – like my family and friends and neighbors in my hometown community of San Pedro that work the docks at the Port of Los Angeles and those that provide transportation to our communities.” 

“Our dock workers may be essential, but shouldn’t be sacrificial. We salute them as essential workers, and this Committee can honor their sacrifices by taking steps to protect them in their jobs.” 

“The fact of the matter is: cities are crying for help. Regardless if you live in a city of 5,000 population or 5 million population, we are on the ground zero of this pandemic.” 

“From the East coast to the West coast, when we talk about the supply chain  the goods that come through the port of Los Angeles and Long Beach, they hit every Congressional district. So, common guidance moving forward from the federal government would be helpful  on protections and vaccines for transportation workers, because it’s a global supply chain that goes across all state lines.” 

To watch Councilmember Buscaino’s full testimony from today’s House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure hearing, click here. 

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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.