A bill meant to aid local governments struggling amid the coronavirus pandemic was re-introduced on Tuesday in Congress by a bipartisan pair of lawmakers as municipal finances remain an ongoing question in the new year.
Democratic Rep. Antonio Delgado and Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin are backing the legislation, which would provide aid to local governments regardless of their size — expanding a March 2020 package that provided $500 billion for communities with more than 500,000 people.
The language in the CARES Act in effect excluded smaller communities that may have never the less struggled to respond the crisis and lost revenue.
Local governments are considering a range of measures to make ends meet including tax increases and layoffs in order to close budget gaps.
“When the COVID-19 crisis hit, our local governments jumped to action to provide essential services while facing decreasing tax revenue," Delgado said. "Now, more than 10 months into this pandemic, our communities desperately need federal funds to avoid layoffs, ensure timely vaccine distribution, grow availability of testing, and continue meeting the needs of their residents."
Congress is expected to consider another stimulus measure in the coming weeks as President-elect Joe Biden has pledged direct aid to state and local governments whose budgets have been affected by the pandemic.
“Our local governments have been on the frontlines in the battle against coronavirus, and they will be critical in finishing the fight on the ground,” Zeldin said.
“In light of historic, enhanced budgetary shortfalls caused by this ongoing outbreak, we must ensure our local governments have the direct funding they need to recover fiscally. This bipartisan proposal with Congressman Antonio Delgado helps deliver vital funding to counties, towns, cities and villages of all sizes so that we can ensure our communities emerge on the other side of this outbreak stronger than ever.”