Last week, bills were introduced in both houses with bipartisan support that would provide state and local governments with $500 billion in additional fiscal relief despite Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) saying he wants to wait on any additional help.
S 3752 is sponsored by Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) along with Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA). Other senators signing on as original cosponsors include Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), and Senator Corey Booker (D-NJ). A House version has been introduced, (HR 6954), with the lead sponsors being Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ) and Congressman Peter King (D-NY), Congressman Tom O’Halleran, (D-AZ), Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick, (R-PA), Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, (D-MI), Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R-NY), Congressman Ted Lieu, (D-CA), Congressman Fred Upton (R-MI), Congressman Josh Gottheimer, (D-NJ), and Congressman Tom Reed, (R-NY).
Under the new bill, $16 billion would be set aside for Native American Tribes. The remaining $484 billion would be allocated to states, territories, the District of Columbia, counties, and municipalities. The $484 billion would be divided into thirds with one-third distributed to states based on that state’s percentage of the overall U.S. population with local governments getting one-sixth of the state allocation, in proportion to their share of the state’s population. A second third of the federal funding would be distributed according to each share of nationwide COVID-19 infections, with counties and municipalities again getting one-sixth of their state’s money based on population. The final third of the federal funds would be based on each state’s revenue losses as a percentage of combined state losses over the course of this year. Once again, counties and municipal governments get one-sixth share, based on their revenue losses in proportion to overall losses in their state.
There are also other bipartisan pieces of legislation being introduced or crafted in the Senate, including additional efforts to help small businesses to survive beyond the initial relief provided through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). That PPP is crafted to help small businesses cover 75 percent of their payroll into late June. Different efforts are being developed by Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Senator Todd Young (R-IN) as well as a separate effort by Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV). These bills seek to address the ongoing challenges for these businesses deeper into the year. The bottom line is that there appears to be bipartisan interest in the Senate for a fifth relief package.
While the Senate is out this week, the pressure will build as the next set of unemployment data is released next week, as states get closer to the start of a new state fiscal year and the proposed across-the-board budget cuts are imposed and that is communicated to members of the Senate and House.