Frederick Mayor Michael O’Connor has joined about 600 other state and local officials across the country, urging Congress to approve a package of relief for the COVID-19 pandemic, including funding for states and local governments.
O’Connor signed on to the letter organized by the National League of Cities and dated Thursday.
It urges members of Congress to “take immediate action on comprehensive coronavirus relief legislation, including desperately needed funding for states, counties, cities and schools, and an increase in states’ federal medical assistance percentage.”
It warned that many middle-class American working families could fall into poverty without significant federal assistance.
State and local governments have had to carry much of the burden of the COVID-19 response through the past year, it said.
And it pointed to arguments from the liberal Economic Policy Institute and others that the federal response to the Great Recession in 2007 and 2008 slowed the economic recovery by not providing enough federal funding.
“We cannot repeat this same mistake,” the letter said.
The package proposed by the Biden administration would provide at least $500 million for every state and $130 billion for cities and counties across the country.
The legislation would provide $45.57 billion for municipalities with at least 50,000 residents and $19.53 billion for those with less than 50,000 residents.
President Joe Biden (D) met Friday afternoon at the White House with a bipartisan group of governors, including Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R), to discuss pandemic relief.
O’Connor said the city has had conversations with its local federal representatives about assistance for municipalities, including a visit over the summer from Congressman David Trone (D-Md. 6th).
They’ve also had opportunities to interact with Sens. Ben Cardin (D) and Chris Van Hollen (D) through the Maryland Municipal League, he said.
O’Connor said he has seen positive signs for approval of a package, especially through the city’s federal grants consultant.
Under a possible measure, the flexible funds could be used to respond to or mitigate the public health emergency on the economic impacts of COVID-19, cover costs that resulted from the emergency or replace lost or decreased revenue.
O’Connor said the city’s federal partners have been working hard to help cities like Frederick weather the costs of the pandemic.
“Our federal delegations has been very supportive of getting this COVID relief delivered, and with the election and change in Senate leadership, there is more reason to be optimistic that something will happen with this Congress,” O’Connor wrote.