128 House Members Write to Speaker Pelosi Requesting that Future COVID-19 Relief Packages Include Direct Funding for Small Localities

April 2, 2020
Press Release

Congressmen Andy Levin (MI-09), Ben Ray Luján (NM-03), Tom Malinowski (NJ-07) and Joe Neguse (CO-02) today led a bipartisan letter signed by 128 House Members and sent to Speaker Pelosi requesting that future COVID-19 response packages include stabilization funding specifically for localities with populations under 500,000.

While the CARES Act that was signed by the president included a $150 billion Coronavirus Relief Fund, the legislation did not allow for localities with populations under 500,000 to receive stabilization funds directly.

A section of the letter reads:

“Like their larger neighbors, though, these smaller counties, cities, and towns have faced enormous costs while responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. These costs include deploying timely public service announcements to keep Americans informed, rapidly activating emergency operations, readying employees for telework to keep services running, and more.”

The letter continues:

“As you work to craft the next package to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, we urge you to include direct stabilization funding to localities with populations under 500,000, or to lower the threshold for direct funding through the Coronavirus Relief Fund.”

Signers of the letter include:

Colin Z. Allred, Nanette Diaz Barragán, Joyce Beatty, Ami Bera, M.D., Earl Blumenauer, Suzanne Bonamici, Anthony Brindisi, Anthony G. Brown, Julia Brownley, Cheri Bustos, Salud O. Carbajal, Matt Cartwright, Kathy Castor, Judy Chu, Gilbert R. Cisneros, Jr., Wm. Lacy Clay, James E. Clyburn, Gerald E. Connolly, J. Luis Correa, Joe Courtney, TJ Cox, Angie Craig, Charlie Crist, Jason Crow, Henry Cuellar, Sharice L. Davids, Madeleine Dean, Peter A. DeFazio, Rosa L. DeLauro, Suzan DelBene, Val Butler Demings, Theodore E. Deutch, Debbie Dingell, Mike Doyle, Eliot L. Engel, Veronica Escobar, Anna G. Eshoo, Abby Finkenauer, Bill Foster, Sylvia R. Garcia, Vicente Gonzalez, Josh Gottheimer, Raúl M. Grijalva, Deb Haaland, Josh Harder, Alcee L. Hastings, Jahana Hayes, Jim Himes, Kendra S. Horn, Steven Horsford, Jared Huffman, Pramila Jayapal, Henry C. "Hank" Johnson, Jr., Marcy Kaptur, Joseph P. Kennedy, III, Daniel T. Kildee, Derek Kilmer, Ann Kirkpatrick, Ann McLane Kuster, Conor Lamb, John B. Larson, Brenda L. Lawrence, Al Lawson, Barbara Lee, Susie Lee, Andy Levin, Mike Levin, Dave Loebsack, Alan Lowenthal, Ben Ray Luján, Elaine G. Luria, Tom Malinowski, Lucy McBath, Betty McCollum, A. Donald McEachin, James P. McGovern, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, Grace F. Napolitano, Joe Neguse, Tom O’Halleran, Ilhan Omar, Frank Pallone, Jr., Jimmy Panetta, Chris Pappas, Dean Phillips, Chellie Pingree, Mark Pocan, Ayanna Pressley, Jamie Raskin, Tom Reed, Kathleen M. Rice, Cedric L. Richmond, Harley Rouda, Tim Ryan, Michael F.Q. San Nicolas, Linda T. Sánchez, Jan Schakowsky, Adam B. Schiff, Bradley S. Schneider, Kurt Schrader, Kim Schrier, M.D., David Scott, Robert C. "Bobby" Scott, Terri A. Sewell, Donna Shalala, Mikie Sherrill, Albio Sires, Elissa Slotkin, Darren Soto, Abigail D. Spanberger, Jackie Speier, Haley M. Stevens, Thomas R. Suozzi, Mark Takano, Mike Thompson, Rashida Tlaib, Paul D. Tonko, Norma J. Torres, Xochitl Torres Small, Lori Trahan, David Trone, Lauren Underwood, Juan Vargas, Filemon Vela, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Peter Welch, Susan Wild, and Frederica S. Wilson.

The text of the letter is below and the signed version can be found here.

Dear Speaker Pelosi:

We are grateful for your tireless work to address the needs of all Americans struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic, and for your understanding of the tremendous burdens that have been borne by localities as they work to respond to this crisis and keep their populations safe. However, we are concerned that the COVID-19 relief packages considered thus far have not provided direct funding to stabilize smaller counties, cities, and towns—specifically, those with populations under 500,000. As such, we urge you to include direct stabilization funding to such localities in the next COVID-19 response bill, or to lower the threshold for direct funding through the Coronavirus Relief Fund to localities with smaller populations.

Many of us represent districts containing no or few localities with populations above 500,000. Like their larger neighbors, though, these smaller counties, cities, and towns have faced enormous costs while responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. These costs include deploying timely public service announcements to keep Americans informed, rapidly activating emergency operations, readying employees for telework to keep services running, and more. This work is essential to keeping our constituents safe and mitigating the spread of the coronavirus as effectively as possible.

We fear that, without targeted stabilization funding, smaller localities will be unable to continue providing these critical services to our constituents at the rate they are currently.

We applaud you for including a $200 billion Coronavirus Relief Fund as part of H.R. 6379, the Take Responsibility for Workers and Families Act—$50 billion more than the Senate package provides. However, we are concerned that, in both the House and Senate bills, localities with populations under 500,000 cannot receive stabilization funds directly. As you work to craft the next package to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, we urge you to include direct stabilization funding to localities with populations under 500,000, or to lower the threshold for direct funding through the Coronavirus Relief Fund. There’s precedent for a lower threshold. Currently, localities with populations of at least 50,000 are eligible to receive funding through the Community Development Block Grant program. We believe this funding will allow smaller counties, cities and towns in our districts to continue the tremendous work they are doing to protect our constituents during this difficult time.

Thank you for your consideration of this request. We stand ready to work with you as we continue to provide much-needed relief for the American people.

Sincerely,

[Members of Congress]