ITHACA, NY (WSKG) – New York 19th District Congressman Antonio Delgado and New York U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, both Democrats, are calling for more federal help for rural communities in the next COVID-19 relief bill.
During a press call on Thursday, the lawmakers said new aid should be modeled after the Rebuilding Rural America Act, a bill Gillibrand introduced last year.
Delgado said that rural officials often have other full-time jobs and do not have the staff or the time to sift through fund opportunities for which ones may help residents.
“It is incredibly unfair that local governments serving populations under 500,000 or less were not given direct access to funding in the CARES Act,” said Delgado. “And it would be a further injustice to force them to compete for dollars allocated through the state in the next relief package.”
Delgado said the bill should include community block grants that would give municipalities five-year grants to address current and future consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gillibrand further criticized the first aid packages and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. She said McConnell is ignoring the needs of rural communities in the funding that has been announced so far.
“If you really want to look for where the sins of the moment lie, it’s in the first, second and third COVID bill where Mitch McConnell wrote in giveaways to favorite companies and favorite sectors of the economy,” Gillibrand said.
The senator hopes a final package would include about $500 billion with $250 billion for small businesses, $150 billion going to hospitals and localities each. That funding should become available immediately should the bill pass and be signed into law.