176 groups to Senate: Pass more virus relief or 'millions of Americans' will suffer

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Millions 'will needlessly be harmed' without more help, the groups, led by the National Governors Association, wrote this week.

At least 176 groups representing state and local government officials sent a letter to Senate leaders on Monday demanding federal assistance to cope with budget shortfalls created by the coronavirus crisis.

If the Senate does nothing, the groups wrote, "our nation’s recovery from the pandemic-induced recession will suffer and millions of Americans will needlessly be harmed."

The letter was spearheaded by the National Governors Association and addressed to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

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Previous congressional relief efforts provided some targeted help for state and local governments, but more assistance is needed "to both rebuild the economy and maintain essential services in education, health care, emergency operations, public safety and more," groups wrote.

Many states may furlough workers or even cut jobs to make up for the budget shortfall, which will add to growing unemployment rates, they added, noting that the "damage will get far worse without federal assistance."

In addition to the NGA, the letter was signed by national groups representing state and local governments, including the National Association of Counties, the National League of Cities, the National Conference of State Legislatures, the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

A total of 176 groups signed the letter. The list included several large businesses such as health care giant Anthem, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, Land O'Lakes, and Siemens.

On May 15, a bipartisan majority in the House of Representatives passed the HEROES Act, a coronavirus relief package that would provide nearly $1 trillion for state and local governments.

"With the Heroes Act, we can meet the urgent needs of the American people and help our country through the coronavirus crisis," Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY), chair of the House Appropriations Committee, said in a statement at the time.

The Senate, however, has refused to take up the bill or any other legislation to provide assistance for state and local governments.

After it passed the House, McConnell dismissed the HEROES Act as "not serious" and said it would never pass the Senate.

Other Republicans have also publicly dismissed calls for more funding for local governments.

In early May, Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ) rejected efforts to provide more assistance as ploy by cities and states "who have mismanaged their budgets over the course of many decades...to use this as an opportunity to see you, as a taxpayer in Arizona, as a cash cow for them."

The Arizona Association of Counties and the League of Arizona Cities and Towns were among the groups that signed Monday’s letter.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.