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Source: United States House of Representatives – Representative Abigail Spanberger (D-VA-07)

HENRICO, V.A. – U.S. Representatives Abigail Spanberger (D-VA-07), John Katko (R-NY-24), Peter DeFazio (D-OR-04), and Rodney Davis (R-IL-16) today led a 102-member effort calling on Congress to invest in direct funding for smaller and rural county governments in upcoming COVID-19 relief packages.

In a letter sent to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, the bipartisan group of lawmakers led 98 of their colleagues in calling on strengthened federal funding and greater flexibility for county governments of all sizes across the country in response to COVID-19. In the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed in the U.S. House last month, only localities with more than 500,000 residents were eligible to receive direct funding.

“Today our county governments are not only dealing with an unprecedented uptick in the demand for essential services but are doing so during an unprecedented economic downturn that has caused considerable hardship and growing shortfalls in tax revenue,” Spanberger, Katko, DeFazio, Davis, and their colleagues state. “These realities place a strain on the budgets of our counties at a time when our constituents need their support the most. Moving forward, we must empower our local governments with greater flexibility to spend federal relief dollars as they see fit, including to help make up for the loss of expected tax revenues or other unexpected budget shortfalls.

Their letter continues, “We are particularly concerned that smaller and more rural counties—which need to continue operating their hospitals, emergency response centers, and more—receive adequate resources to successfully address the needs of their residents. As such, we urge you to disburse funding directly to localities to ensure that these allocations more closely reflect the special role and critical responsibilities of county governments of all sizes during this public health crisis.”

“Counties are on the front lines of addressing the far-reaching health, safety and economic impacts of COVID-19. Our costs are skyrocketing while our revenues are plummeting. This unprecedented pandemic is leading to massive budgetary impacts for counties and local taxpayers, with as much as $144 billion in lost revenue and increased expenditures through FY2021,” said National Association of Counites Executive Director Matthew Chase. “Investing in counties means investing in our local economies and workforces. We applaud Representatives Spanberger, Kato, DeFazio, and Davis for supporting counties’ essential health, safety, and economic recovery efforts.”

Click here to read the bipartisan letter, and the full letter text is also printed below.

Dear Speaker Pelosi and Leader McCarthy,

As you consider the next COVID-19 (coronavirus) relief package, we write to urge you to support dedicated and robust funding for county governments of all sizes across the country. Across America, Counties operate nearly 1,000 public hospitals, 1,900 local public health departments, more than 800 long-term care facilities, and 750 behavioral health departments, and are responsible for other essential functions including emergency operations centers, human services, jail management, 911 services, veterans’ services, coroners, and medical examiners. Through these services, our counties act as our nation’s front-line of defense in the response to the coronavirus pandemic.

However, the current public health crisis has put a significant strain on the budgets of our counties. Today our county governments are not only dealing with an unprecedented uptick in the demand for essential services but are doing so during an unprecedented economic downturn that has caused considerable hardship and growing shortfalls in tax revenue. These realities place a strain on the budgets of our counties at a time when our constituents need their support the most. Moving forward, we must empower our local governments with greater flexibility to spend federal relief dollars as they see fit, including to help make up for the loss of expected tax revenues or other unexpected budget shortfalls.

While the funding provided through the Coronavirus Relief Fund in the CARES Act was an important first step in getting much needed relief to our localities, the additional stipulation that only localities of over 500,000 residents would receive direct funding makes it difficult for counties to know much of their state’s allocation will be available for their needs.

We are particularly concerned that smaller and more rural counties—which need to continue operating their hospitals, emergency response centers, and more—receive adequate resources to successfully address the needs of their residents. As such, we urge you to disburse funding directly to localities to ensure that these allocations more closely reflect the special role and critical responsibilities of county governments of all sizes during this public health crisis.

We thank you for your leadership during this crisis and thank you for your attention to this important matter.

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MIL OSI USA News