Source: United States House of Representatives – Congressman Ben Ray Luján (D-NM)
May 04, 2020
Nambé, N.M. – Today, U.S. House Assistant Speaker Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) participated in an online forum with a bipartisan group of Members of Congress and representatives from the National Association of Counties and National League of Cities on the need to provide direct relief to local governments in future COVID-19 legislation.
Assistant Speaker Luján, along with U.S. Representatives Andy Levin (D-MI), Tom Malinowski (D-NJ), and Joe Neguse (D-CO), previously introduced the Coronavirus Community Relief Act to provide $250 billion in stabilization funds for local communities, towns, and cities across the United States that need relief amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the most recent U.S. Census data, only one county In New Mexico has a population that exceeds 500,000 people, which is the threshold for eligibility for direct support under the CARES Act.
The Coronavirus Community Relief Act is especially crucial for Luján’s district which includes rural counties hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. These funds can help local governments pay police, firefighters, and other first responders, support their school systems, and meet the needs of their citizens. The legislation now has 144 bipartisan co-sponsors.
Video of the forum is available here.
“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,” said Luján. “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 crisis.”
“Local leaders are working around the clock to acquire tests and protection for first responders, help their hospitals and schools, and more,” said Levin. “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.”
“We’re not at this hearing talking about the kind of issue that usually divides Republicans and Democrats,” said Malinowski. “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,” said Neguse. “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.”