American mayors are rallying behind newly-inaugurated President Joseph R. Biden’s new plan to end the COVID-19 pandemic and save the American economy by providing direct fiscal relief to all cities— large, medium, and small—and boosting support for America’s vaccination program. As the coronavirus pandemic continues to ravage communities and cause economic suffering, President Biden has put forward a comprehensive package of relief measures that includes $350 billion in direct aid to state and local governments. Yesterday, 284 mayors – Republicans, Democrats and Independents – urged congressional leaders to take action.
American cities have been crushed by the pandemic with revenues disappearing almost overnight and cuts to critical services and jobs. Yet Congress and the outgoing administration have provided almost no fiscal support to cities, prolonging the pandemic’s economic fallout and causing real pain for city workers and residents. With his new plan, President Biden recognizes that direct, flexible relief to cities is critical to saving the jobs of teachers, police, first responders, and other essential workers. That’s why the bipartisan group of mayors from the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) is stressing the need for relief to go directly to local governments. Mayors also expressed support for President Biden’s plan for additional resources to boost vaccinations in America.
The letter dated January 19, 2021 reads, in part:
“[W]ith few exceptions, cities have been largely left without direct federal assistance. The lack of adequate support has resulted in budget cuts, service reductions, and job losses. Sadly, nearly one million local government jobs have already been lost during the pandemic. Our essential workers deserve federal relief like any other sector.
“The $350 billion in direct relief to state and local governments included in President-elect Biden’s American Rescue Plan would allow cities to preserve critical public sector jobs and help drive our economic recovery. Providing direct, flexible aid to cities is the most efficient and immediate way to help families and their communities who have been suffering for far too long.
“Furthermore, cities must be central to a deliberate strategy to accelerate vaccinations throughout the country. We support President-elect Biden’s proposal to mount a national vaccination program and the provision of additional resources to cities to bolster our efforts to contain the spread of the virus.
“Your quick action on President-elect Biden’s plan is a crucial step to making meaningful progress in one of the most challenging moments in our country’s history. The United States Conference of Mayors is eager to work with Congress and the incoming Administration to meet this challenge. We encourage you to take up the President-elect’s rescue plan as soon as possible in the 117th Congress.”
Tomorrow through Saturday, January 23, hundreds of mayors from across the country will gather virtually for the USCM’s 89th Winter Meeting. Mayors will engage with Biden administration officials, Congressional leaders and business leaders to discuss the state of America’s cities and the biggest challenges currently facing the nation. USCM President Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer will lead the virtual three-day gathering. Sessions will focus on issues such as the ongoing COVID-19 response and recovery, vaccine distribution, racial equity, climate change, gun violence prevention, immigration, and cybersecurity.
Read the text of the full letter here.
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