Neal: Assistance for Cities and States a Priority for Next COVID-19 Response Package

Apr 29, 2020
Press Release
During discussion with the Chairman, mayors from across the nation emphasized the vital need for federal support
SPRINGFIELD, MA – Today, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard E. Neal (D-MA) joined mayors from across the country to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic’s fiscal impacts on cities and ways Congress can support local leaders as they confront these new, daunting challenges. The United States Conference of Mayors hosted the video discussion, which included Dayton, Ohio Mayor Nan Whaley, Columbia, South Carolina Mayor Steve Benjamin, Arlington, Texas Mayor Jeff Williams, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Mayor Bill Peduto, and Santa Fe, New Mexico Mayor Alan Webber.
Chairman Neal, himself the former mayor of Springfield, Massachusetts, assured the mayors that “as Congress works on the next response legislation, we want to be sure we can help you shore up the economic health of your cities. I know residents are relying on you for crucial services and you are facing decisions no mayor wants to have to make ever, let alone during a public health emergency.”
The mayors emphasized the devastating toll the crisis has taken on their communities and urged Chairman Neal to relay the dire circumstances they face to other members of Congress:
Dayton, Ohio Mayor Nan Whaley: “Cities like ours are on the frontline of the fight against COVID-19, struggling to keep people safe and provide vital services, but we simply can’t do it alone. We need federal support to both deal with the current crisis and to make sure we can recover from it. We are talking about the frontline workers that are providing the service that is so key during this crisis, we are not talking about fancy things.”
Columbia, South Carolina Mayor Steve Benjamin: “Direct, flexible fiscal assistance to cities is so important. State and local spending makes up 17 percent of the GDP right now…if we make these investments thoughtfully, we will be in better shape for posterity. We need real money, we need direct assistance.”
Arlington, Texas Mayor Jeff Williams: “This pandemic is not a situation that is affecting red or blue cities. It is a red, white, and blue issue that is affecting all of America…Congress has acted so quickly and we are so appreciative of what’s happened…but of course, absent direct and flexible assistance for local governments, this crisis could really deepen.”
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Mayor Bill Peduto: “The disinvestment from Washington will come at a cost not simply to our firefighters, police, and other uniformed workers, not only to the services we provide to the people that live on our cities, but to the economies in the region of America that built America…there will not be an economic recovery if our states and our cities are bankrupt.”
Santa Fe, New Mexico Mayor Alan Webber: “If we don’t get some assistance, we will not only face a cut in services now, but the cost of money goes up in the future so it is a double hit. The faster and more quickly we can get flexible assistance so we can maintain our fiscal integrity as a partner to the federal government, it benefits everyone in the rebuilding of the America economy. The economy will rebound from the grassroots up.”
Watch the full discussion HERE.