April 17, 2020

Warner & Kaine Call For Dedicated, Flexible State And Local Government Emergency Funding

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine joined 30 of their colleagues to call for state, local, and tribal governments to receive dedicated, flexible funding in the next COVID-19 emergency funding package. While Virginia has received $3.3 billion to support its COVID-19 response, the Senators are pushing for the next emergency coronavirus relief package to provide assurances that funding can be used to prevent potentially devastating budget cuts and that localities of all sizes will receive dedicated funding. Earlier this month, Senators Warner and Kaine urged Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to provide Virginia maximum flexibility to use funding from the CARES Act to help address budget shortfalls and prevent harmful budget cuts to services vital to addressing the economic and health crises.

The Senators said, “On behalf of our state, local, and tribal governments, it is essential that you include robust, dedicated, and flexible funding to all units of state and local government in the next interim emergency coronavirus package to support their ongoing efforts in the fight against this pandemic. Not only are these public servants on the front line of the immediate response effort, they are also major employers navigating unprecedented declines in revenue just as the need for their services hits an all-time high. We can and we must work together to get this essential funding to our local partners as quickly as possible.”

The letter was led by Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV). In addition to Warner and Kaine, it was signed by Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Doug Jones (D-AL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Tom Carper (D-DE), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Patty Murray (D-WA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Jack Reed (D-RI), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).

You can read the full letter here and below.

Dear Leader McConnell and Secretary Mnuchin:

On behalf of our state, local, and tribal governments, it is essential that you include robust, dedicated, and flexible funding to all units of state and local government in the next interim emergency coronavirus package to support their ongoing efforts in the fight against this pandemic. Not only are these public servants on the front line of the immediate response effort, they are also major employers navigating unprecedented declines in revenue just as the need for their services hits an all-time high. We can and we must work together to get this essential funding to our local partners as quickly as possible.

While the Coronavirus Relief Fund authorized in the CARES Act (P.L. 116-136) was an important first step, there is no guarantee that any of that funding will reach the millions of Americans who live in communities with fewer than 500,000 residents. The U.S. Department of the Treasury has made it clear that no unit of local government representing fewer than 500,000 residents is eligible to apply for direct funding. The next interim emergency coronavirus package must include dedicated funding for the cities, counties, tribes, and other local governments that serve these communities.

The intent of the legislative language authorizing the Coronavirus Relief Fund was to provide flexible funding to state and local jurisdictions as they respond to an unfolding national health and economic crisis. Flexibility is critical as federal response guidelines change almost daily. Our local partners have to constantly adjust and adapt to maintain a consistent response while grappling with dramatically reduced state and local revenues that are the direct result of COVID-19’s effects on our economy. While we remain hopeful that the U.S. Department of the Treasury will issue implementation guidance for the Coronavirus Relief Fund that is consistent with the aforementioned Congressional intent, we also know that our state, local, and tribal partners need certainty now that they can use all current and future federal funds to cover reductions in revenues resulting from the public health emergency and faltering COVID-19 economy.

Our local partners, unlike the federal government, have a legal requirement to balance their budget. They do not have the luxury of carrying debt over year after year. We stand with our country’s governors, mayors, county officials, and tribal leaders in asking you to put politics aside and support our local partners. They cannot afford to wait any longer.

 

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