Levin, Bipartisan House Members Host Forum with Local Government Leaders on COVID-19 Relief Priorities
Congressman Andy Levin (D-MI), vice chair of the House Education and Labor Committee, today joined a bipartisan group of House members for a hearing-style discussion on the funding needs of local governments. Because the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, or the CARES Act, limited localities able to receive direct support at those with populations of over 500,000, many smaller localities are buckling under the immense costs of the COVID-19 response. Today’s discussion was an opportunity for lawmakers to hear about the necessity for direct stabilization funds from local government leaders.
The forum was convened by Reps. Andy Levin (D-MI), Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Tom Malinowski (D-NJ) and Joe Neguse (D-CO), the four leaders of the Coronavirus Community Relief Act, new legislation to provide $250 billion in stabilization funds for local communities, cities and towns across the United States that are struggling amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Reps. Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH), a cosponsor of the bill, and Rodney Davis (R-IL) also participated in the discussion.
“Local leaders are working around the clock to acquire tests and protection for first responders, help their hospitals and schools, and more,” Rep. Levin said. “The least we can do is make sure they have the resources to keep this essential work going. That’s what our Coronavirus Community Relief Act is about.”
“Across the nation, local governments are working tirelessly to meet the needs of their citizens and keep people safe and healthy. But throughout this crisis, local governments are incurring significant costs and need additional, immediate support. Protecting the paychecks of first responders, health care workers, and public service workers should not be a partisan issue – it’s simply common-sense,” Assistant Speaker Luján said. “I was proud to join my colleagues in today’s forum because I know that local governments require urgent support to weather this crisis. Failing to provide meaningful and robust relief to local governments will significantly undermine the national response to COVID-19, and we simply cannot let that happen. I will continue fighting for additional support for local, state, and Tribal governments as we work to overcome this moment.”
“We’re not at this hearing talking about the kind of issue that usually divides Republicans and Democrats,” Rep. Malinowski said. “All of us agree that local government in America has to continue to function and all of us want to see local government weather this storm. We have to come together and help each other. Just as we have for small businesses, we have to save small town America.”
“My district, like many of the districts of my colleagues, includes many counties and many cities with populations under half a million,” Rep. Neguse said. “And yet, some of those same counties and cities are some of the hardest hit by both the public health crisis and economic crisis. These communities deserve just as much as their larger counterparts to have access to stabilization funds at the federal level.”
Midland, Michigan Mayor Maureen Donker joined the forum as a representative of the National League of Cities, and Police Jury Association of Louisiana Executive Director Guy Cormier joined from the National Association of Counties.
“Without the budget certainty and stability that the Coronavirus Community Relief Act would provide, Midland will have no choice but to contemplate cuts in services and employment that would have been unimaginable just a few weeks ago,” Mayor Donker said. “Critical infrastructure projects needed to protect our residents are likely to be delayed and funding for new amenities that would improve the quality of life and allow people not just to survive, but flourish, would be in jeopardy.”
“In order to maintain mandated balanced budgets, many counties and parishes have already been forced to cut costs by furloughing or laying off workers, a step many counties and parishes have already taken,” Director Cormier said. “On average, these counties have furloughed about 6 percent of the total county workforce. This brings me to my ask for today: In the midst of such a crisis, a strong federal-state-local partnership – including direct funding to counties and parishes of all sizes that covers lost revenue – is of utmost importance to combat COVID-19 and save as many lives and jobs as possible.”