Key Changes Sought for New Federal Stimulus Plan for COVID Relief

Posted on December 16, 2020 by Dene Westbrook

There are some developments in Washington D.C. today regarding a new stimulus package for COVID-19 assistance. We need your help as part of an effort to make some key technical changes to the package nearing completion. Time is of the essence so please reach out to your Congressional representatives.

Here are the details from our partners at the National League of Cities (NLC):

It’s been a busy morning here in Washington given this stage of negotiations. In the interest of time, read this article for the latest regarding where things stand. 

As Republicans in the U.S. Senate have apparently succeeded in killing direct aid for state and local governments in the COVID-19 relief effort, we continue to push for the three changes outlined in this letter to Congress from the NLC, National Association of Counties, and the U.S. Conference of Mayors and NLC. These three changes are also pasted below.

Please feel free to reach out to your Congressional delegates and the White House expressing support of these provisions added to final bill.

You can also forward to your federal lawmakers this joint letter signed this afternoon by the Michigan Municipal League, the Michigan Townships Association, and the Michigan Association of Counties.

Here are the three technical changes we’re seeking to the COVID-19 emergency aid package being finalized in D.C.:

Our top policy priority remains local budget relief for cities and counties to partially offset revenue losses and unbudgeted emergency expenditures that local governments have made and continue to make for the health and safety of our communities.

Apart from that priority, we’re encouraging our federal lawmakers to include the following technical changes in the final COVID-19 emergency aid package:

  1. Adjust FEMA cost-share upwards: To help local governments offset the costs associated with the current national emergency response to this ongoing pandemic, Congress should include key provisions within H.R. 8266, the FEMA Assistance Relief Act of 2020, including adjusting the FEMA cost-share for all COVID-19 related Emergency and Major Disaster declarations to 100 percent. Additionally, Congress should include provisions within H.R. 8266 that would adjust the FEMA cost-share for all emergencies and major disaster declared in 2020 to not less than 90 percent federal and 10 percent non-federal, as well as a vital provision that would clarify that FEMA – under COVID-19 declarations – should continue to reimburse for certain expenses including personal protective equipment (PPE) for public schools, public transit, public utilities, courthouses and other government buildings and services.
  2. Enhanced Flexibility for Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF): States and localities need more flexibility to use already appropriated CRF funding than is provided by the CARES Act. Amending CARES Act language to enhance flexibility for CRF by making “replacement of lost revenue” an eligible expenditure would meaningfully aid state, county, and municipal governments. We recommend CARES Act language be revised to read: Title VI, Sec 601 (d):(1) are necessary expenditures or lost revenue incurred due to the public health emergency with respect to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID–19).’
  3. Deadline Extension for Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF): States and localities are facing an imminent deadline to spend down all Coronavirus Relief Funds or return the balance to the U.S. Treasury. Early regulatory uncertainty created a challenging environment for state and local governments to confidently make eligible expenditures or payments to smaller jurisdictions. We recommend the spending deadline for CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Funds be extended to Dec. 31, 2021, to allow local governments to continue to wisely invest in their communities by supporting small businesses and protecting vulnerable residents.
    The League appreciates any help you can provide on this effort.
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