(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) sent a letter with a group of Senators calling for additional relief for state, localities, and tribal governments in the next COVID relief package, including a strong all-state minimum to ensure every state can meet the economic and public health challenges the nation still faces. U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) led the letter.
In March, Congress established the Coronavirus Relief Fund in the CARES Act. The fund provided direct support to state and local governments to support local business, provide the necessary resources to schools, and secure personal protective equipment for frontline workers. In the months since Congress passed the CARES Act, many states have exhausted these resources even as the economic and health crisis worsened.
In a letter to Leader Schumer and Leader McConnell, the Senators wrote: “The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted every state across the country. While instances of infection and fatalities vary state-to-state, the economic crisis is felt everywhere. As the Senate, in coordination with our partners in the House and with the Biden administration, considers additional relief, it can leave no state behind. Strong funding to replenish the Coronavirus Relief Fund, coupled with a similarly strong all-state minimum and maximum flexibility to best utilize those funds, are essential. We strongly urge you to include these resources in the next COVID package.”
Senators Hassan and Shaheen have heard from local leaders about the budgetary challenges they are facing as a result of the pandemic. Local governments have faced tremendous financial losses and uncontrollable cost increases that are pushing many to the breaking point. Many municipalities are now being forced to consider cutting basic services including education, health care and public safety and laying off essential personnel, such as first responders, teachers, public sanitation workers and more.
As a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Shaheen has been a steadfast advocate for funding for state and local governments during the pandemic. During earlier negotiations of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, Shaheen and Hassan helped deliver an initial $1.25 billion to New Hampshire to assist the State during COVID-19. The relief package signed into law last month included language from Senators Hassan and Shaheen to extend the period during which state and local governments may use Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) aid, allocated under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act through December 31, 2021. Senator Hassan led bipartisan efforts to push for this extension. Dismayed by opposition by Republicans in Congress to allow increased state and local funding in the last relief bill, Shaheen continues to push for this funding to be a top priority during ongoing negotiations in Congress and with the Biden administration. Last week, she met virtually with New Hampshire mayors and municipal leaders to discuss how severe budgetary shortfalls stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic are impacting local communities.
The full text of the letter can be found HERE.