Draft House Bill Provides Aid Only to Cities Above 500,000 Residents

WASHINGTON – As lawmakers hurry to finalize a legislative package responding to the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) is urging them to ensure a greater number of cities are eligible for federal resources. Under the legislation introduced in the House, only cities with populations of 500,000 or more are eligible for direct assistance. This high and arbitrary number would leave the vast majority of cities and residents unable to access this needed funding.

In response, Tom Cochran, CEO and Executive Director of the USCM, sent a letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. It reads in part:

“We were very pleased to see that the 3rd supplemental package put forward in the House of Representatives would appropriate $200 billion for ‘Temporary Fiscal Relief for States and Cities.’ This funding is desperately needed as cities work to save lives and shore up the local economies that drive our nation. However, we are greatly concerned that under this proposal, the cutoff for local governments to receive direct assistance is set at a population of 500,000 or more. The Conference has steadfastly advocated that Congress use the CDBG allocation structure which directly provides funds to every city over 50,000 in population. We urge that this structure be used for the new stabilization program. At a time when every city is working on the front lines to address the COVID-19 crisis, our organization strongly recommends that the House bill be adjusted to use the CDBG allocation structure.”

This letter follows one from more than 300 mayors from across the country calling on Congress to make $250 billion available for cities to help fight the pandemic and protect local communities from the economic fallout.