Cities and counties call for swift resolution to Congressional coronavirus gridlock
With negotiations on the next federal coronavirus relief package stalled in congress, President Donald Trump issued a stopgap measure most notably to extend unemployment benefits and defer payroll taxes. It’s unclear whether the order will hold up in court, but in the meantime local governments are begging for an end to the congressional stalemate.
The National Association of Counties (NACo), for one, is calling for responsible federal relief and the assurance that federal resources will reach county governments on the front lines of the public health pandemic.
“As White House officials and leaders of both parties in the House and Senate continue negotiations on a bipartisan coronavirus relief package agreement, America’s counties have a simple message: a deal without aid for state and local governments is a bad deal,” NACo Executive Director Matthew Chase said in a statement issued by the organization. “America’s 3.6 million county employees – hospital workers, first responders, public health and human services officials, law enforcement personnel, coroners and medical examiners, and other county employees – are delivering vital services to our residents.”
He added, “As we fulfill our vast frontline responsibilities, our public finances – which provide the needed resources to keep our communities safe – are taking a major hit. The vast majority of counties have received inadequate or no federal aid, and our budget impacts grow deeper every day. The COVID-19 pandemic could lead to massive budgetary effects for county governments and local taxpayers, with as much as $202 billion in lost revenue and increased expenditures through FY2021.”
Officials at the National League of Cities (NLC) echoed this sentiment at the municipal level.
“America’s cities, towns and villages have been on the frontline of supporting our nation’s battle against the coronavirus pandemic since the beginning, and in protecting our fellow citizens, have incurred severe budget shortages that impact essential public services, private sector growth and job creation. Failing to address the budget crunches our municipalities are experiencing will deal a major blow to the already fragile national economic recovery,” NLC CEO and Executive Director Clarence Anthony said in a statement, adding:
“Our hometowns are not a talking point – they represent the whole of America, regardless of political affiliation. We urge both the White House and Congress to proceed with negotiations, as millions of Americans in cities of all shapes and sizes will be negatively impacted if direct federal aid is not provided to the thousands of communities that have been left behind. Our national leaders need to move past the partisan rhetoric and come to an agreement to stop the financial decimation our communities are facing.”
NLC launched the Cities Are Essential campaign in May, calling on the federal government to ensure there is flexible, direct funding relief provided to America’s municipalities, and NACo’s coronavirus online hub includes county level examples of response efforts, interactive maps and analyses of federal actions. Click here for more information.