BINGHAMTON, NY (WSKG) – Lawmakers in Washington continue to argue over the latest federal COVID-19 relief bill.
Democrats in the House of Representatives have passed the Heroes Act, but it’s stalled in the Republican-controlled Senate.
A provision, known as the Direct Support for Communities Act, would direct aid to local and county governments. These municipalities were left out of previous relief packages because they had a population of fewer than 500,000 people.
Rep. Antonio Delgado (NY-19) co-sponsored the measure with Long Island Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin (NY-1).
According to Delgado’s office, the measure essentially splits funding 50-50 between local and county governments.
70% of the funds will be distributed through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development through Community Development Block Grants.
The other 30% will be sent to states, which are charged with sending the money to certain cities, towns and villages within 30 days.
The emergency funds for counties will be allocated based on population.
“Our state and local budgets are hemorrhaging and lay-offs are being contemplated, budget cuts are being contemplated, jobs are going to be lost and meaningful services are not going to be provided if we don’t step up in government and get something done,” Delgado said.
Getting something done is the rub.
While other relief packages passed quickly and on a mostly bipartisan basis, that’s not the case here. U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has resisted additional aid packages. Still, Delgado is hopeful.
“To me the area that has the most common ground is state and local,” he said. “It’s the area where, irrespective of political affiliation, governors across the country, mayors across the country, understand that their budgets are coming up short and they need help and they need support.”
That federal support is something Governor Andrew Cuomo has often pushed for in his daily briefing. He’s criticized McConnell, saying the Majority Leader has politicized the pandemic.