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Politics Lawmakers plead for more cash for local governments

21:51  02 april  2020
21:51  02 april  2020 Source:   politico.com

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More than 100 Democrats are urging Speaker Nancy Pelosi to provide desperately needed cash for local governments in the next emergency coronavirus package, warning that smaller cities and towns could soon run out of money to halt the spread.

Ben Ray Lujan wearing a suit and tie: Rep. Ben Ray Lujan. © M. Scott Mahaskey/POLITICO Rep. Ben Ray Lujan.

The group of lawmakers, led by Reps. Ben Ray Lujan (D-N.M.), Andy Levin (D-Mich.), Tom Malinowski (D-N.J.) and Joe Neguse (D-Col.), warned in a letter to Pelosi that less-populated regions will need a quick cash infusion to continue emergency services, after receiving no direct support in the last $2 trillion-plus package that was approved last week.

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“We are concerned that the COVID-19 relief packages considered thus far have not provided direct funding to stabilize smaller counties, cities, and towns,” according to the letter obtained by POLITICO.

The issue over funding for localities had been a heated debate within the House Democratic caucus last week, with several lawmakers fuming that the most recent package prioritized aid for larger, more urban areas and ignored localities with fewer than 500,000 people.

The gigantic $2 trillion relief bill signed by President Donald Trump on Friday does include a $150 billion relief fund for state and local governments to combat the crisis on the ground. But the cash won’t go to hundreds of smaller cities, including Minneapolis, Minn., Dayton, Ohio, Flint, Mich. and Bridgeport, Conn.

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Desolate streets are seen in Dayton, Ohio, amid the coronavirus pandemic. Stimulus cash won't go to smaller cities like Dayton. © Megan JELINGER/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images Desolate streets are seen in Dayton, Ohio, amid the coronavirus pandemic. Stimulus cash won't go to smaller cities like Dayton. Some Democrats were so furious that smaller cities and towns would be left out of the relief package that Pelosi told her members before last week’s vote that there was one Democratic member who might delay quick passage and demand a roll call vote on the massive package, though she did not name the lawmaker.

The National League of Cities had also protested that particular provision, urging lawmakers to “fix” the relief fund by allowing localities with a population of less than 500,000 — but no more than 50,000 — to access the funds.

House Democrats have already begun assembling a fourth relief package in response to the outbreak, and Pelosi has said she will push for several priorities that were left on the cutting room floor in previous negotiations.

The House is expected to return as soon as late April to take up that package and send it to the Senate.

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