WASHINGTON, D.C—Last week, Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01), Madeleine Dean (PA-04), Chrissy Houlahan (PA-06), and Susan Wild (PA-07) introduced the bipartisan Coronavirus Relief Fund Local Government Flexibility Act. Communities across the country are doing their best to protect their residents and support businesses while continuing to provide basic services. Under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the Coronavirus Relief Funds may be used to reimburse local governments in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency during the period of March 1st, 2020 through December 30th, 2020. These may include expenditures incurred to allow the local government to respond directly to the emergency, such as by addressing medical or public health needs, as well as expenditures in response to second-order effects of the emergency, such as economic support to those suffering from employment or business interruptions due to COVID-19-related business closures.
The Coronavirus Relief Fund Local Government Flexibility Act would extend the permissible use of funds timeframe for the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) that was established in the CARES Act. Under this bill, the deadline to use funds under the CRF would be extended from December 30th, 2020 to March 31st, 2021, allowing localities to access crucial funds to stay afloat during this global pandemic. By extending the costs incurred deadline from the current date of December 2020 to March 2021, this bipartisan bill would provide counties, including Bucks County and Montgomery Country, that have received relief funds from the federal government, the financial certainty needed for local budgets as well as help county governments adequately prepare for future costs related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“It is becoming more likely that COVID-19 and its repercussions are a reality that we will continue to face through the end of the year. This will lead to our counties and local governments incurring costs beyond the December deadline passed in the CARES Act,” said Fitzpatrick. “This bipartisan bill would extend the timeframe under which Coronavirus Relief Funds can be used. This extension will allow our counties, which have all been severely impacted, more time to utilize the funds allocated to them through CARES Act and better serve our constituents into early next year.”
“Rebuilding the health, safety, and economy of our communities will take discipline, teamwork, and time,” said Dean. “The Coronavirus Relief Fund Local Government Flexibility Act gives our counties the time needed to use federal resources—I look forward to working with my colleagues and other leaders to ensure we have the tools to protect our constituents and recover from this pandemic.”
“As this pandemic continues to wreak havoc across the country, it is our responsibility as members of Congress to step up and support our communities so they can weather this crisis as safely and effectively as possible,” said Houlahan. “The CARES Act, which I was proud to help pass, has provided our community here in PA with necessary resources to combat this crisis. As we are seeing across the country, this pandemic is not over yet. That’s why I’ve joined a bipartisan coalition to introduce the Coronavirus Relief Fund Local Government Flexibility Act. These relief funds should be able to be used through March of 2021 as communities continue to address this national crisis.”
“Our state and local governments are in desperate need of resources to continue to cope with this pandemic and its deep, lasting impact – and making those resources flexible is essential. The state and municipal governments that have been executing our COVID-19 response need to be able to triage their individual damage and allocate resources to fit their unique needs,” said Wild. “I’m proud to join this bipartisan, commonsense effort to allow our states to navigate their way through this pandemic and the recovery stages and preserve the essential services they provide.”