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NY delegation calls for more aid to state, local governments

The U.S. Capitol Building on April 28.

The U.S. Capitol Building on April 28. Credit: AP / Andrew Harnik

WASHINGTON — The entire New York delegation to the House — including all Democrats and Republicans — urged congressional leaders in a letter Tuesday to pass additional financial aid to state and local governments, including small municipalities.

The letter was addressed to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who support new aid to state and local governments, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who have called for a pause on another major aid package.

The New York delegation’s letter did not request a specific amount but urged that state and local government be allowed to use the federal emergency relief aid not only for COVID-19-related expenditures, as is required now, but also for loss of revenue because of the shuttering of businesses.

“State and local governments are currently faced with massive budgetary shortfalls due to COVID-19. Bankruptcy is not the answer,” said the letter led by Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) and Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove).

“Direct federal assistance in Phase IV legislation is critical,” the letter said, to help support first responders, teachers, nurses, sanitation workers, transit workers and others.

They also appealed for funding for local governments with less than 500,000 people, the threshold for funding in the CARES Act $150 billion state and local government aid.

The National Governors Association two weeks ago requested an additional $500 billion for state governments and the National League of Cities, National Association of Counties and the U.S. Conference of Mayors asked for $250 billion for cities and counties.

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“We will look at helping states as we've done,” said U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on FOX Business Network on Monday, adding that the CARES Act included “a lot of money for coronavirus expenses.”

Mnuchin said the president directed him on Friday to create more flexibility so that the $150 billion to states and local governments can be used for firefighters, police and first responders.

But he added, “As we’ve said before, we’re not going to bail out states that had financial issues ahead of time.”

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