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Commonwealth's Counties

Congress Nearing Possible Deal on New Coronavirus Relief Package

Congress appears to be nearing a deal on a new coronavirus relief package and could vote on it as early as the end of the week.

According to the National Association of Counties (NACo), Congressional leaders have been hard at work putting together a new coronavirus relief package that will include nearly $900 billion in aid. Unfortunately, despite dedicated efforts from NACo, the National League of Cities, and countless state and local partners across the country, aid to state and local governments does not appear to be included this new deal.

While initially there had been discussions about a possible $160 billion for state and local governments, it now appears that this sum will be redirected to other priorities, namely via stimulus checks to individuals and through an increase in unemployment insurance payments.

NACo anticipates that this new relief package will likely track with a previously introduced Senate plan. This means that we can likely expect there to be approximately $320 billion for the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) as well as funding for healthcare providers, broadband assistance, nutrition assistance, transportation/transit funding, vaccine planning, and more. So while counties will not receive direct aid in this new package, they would be eligible for the funding in these aforementioned categories.

NACo reported that, given these developments, they are now focusing on three key objectives in the final hours before this package is likely passed.

  1. Extension of the deadline for the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) until December 2021
  2. Waiver of local cost share for FEMA funding
  3. Lost revenue flexibility for CRF moneys

All three objectives are achievable, and state and local partners are asked to reach out to their Representatives and Senators as well as their contacts at the White House to advocate for this.

There is also an expectation that Congress will extend the Family First Coronavirus Response Act. This Act provided funding and enabling language for free coronavirus testing, paid sick leave practices, and more. NACo is working to ensure that counties will be eligible for the provisions of this Act.

VACo will continue to monitor these developments and report updates as they come.

VACo Contact: Chris McDonald, Esq.

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