COVID Relief Bill

Republican Mayors Express Support for COVID-19 Relief Bill

President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill was passed by the House of Representatives on Saturday in a highly partisan vote. The bill now heads to the Senate where—if it passes—it is expected to do so by a similarly razor-thin margin, most likely thanks to a tie-breaking vote by Vice President Kamala Harris. However, despite significant opposition to the aid package within the halls of Congress, local officials around the country from both parties have expressed support for the federal aid that would come nearly a year into the global pandemic.

About 425 mayors submitted a letter to Congress through the U.S. Conference of Mayors. Among them are at least 32 Republican mayors from cities ranging from Carmel, Ind.; to Arlington, Texas; to Mesa, Ariz.; and more.

“Local governments will be relied upon to lead the long-term economic recovery our nation so desperately needs, even as, with few exceptions, cities have been largely left without direct federal assistance,” the letter read. “The lack of adequate support has resulted in budget cuts, service reductions, and job losses. Sadly, nearly one million local government jobs have already been lost during the pandemic. Our essential workers deserve federal relief like any other sector.”

GOP members of Congress object to the cost of the bill, calling it a “blue state bailout,” according to Business Insider. “What I see,” said GOP Rep. Trent Kelly of Mississippi, “is a bailout for poorly-run [cities and states], not money that is earmarked for those who have discovered losses based on COVID.”

Republican mayors, including Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt and Mesa, Ariz., Mayor John Giles, maintain that federal aid is very much necessary across the board. “I don’t know a city where revenues have gone up…Whether your mayor is a Republican or a Democrat, revenues are down,” said Holt. “The idea that this is a red state/blue state or red city/blue city thing is really a myth. Everybody is down. Everybody needs some support to get their services back to the level that people expect.”

The bill is set to provide $350 billion in direct aid to state and local governments. The letter to Congress explains, “Providing direct, flexible aid to cities is the most efficient and immediate way to help families and their communities who have been suffering for far too long.”

Holt also told USA Today, “If it’s good for cities, and especially for Oklahoma City, I’m going to be supportive. The $350 billion for cities and states is a no-brainer to me, regardless of your political party.”

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