Congress Must Come Together to Provide Direct Funding for Local Governments, Businesses, Families
For the OC Register on February 19, 2021
With the debate to provide COVID-19 relief well underway, Congressional leadership from both sides of the aisle should come together to provide targeted relief directly to local communities so relief goes to those who need it most. I have heard from our local mayors and officials across California’s 39th Congressional District, which includes parts of Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino Counties, and have been advocating for direct aid in Washington because our communities need aid to defeat the virus and to continue to provide essential services for our communities. A one-size-fits-all approach will leave many behind, as we’ve seen here in California. Our local governments know what is best for their respective communities and are better suited to distribute relief efficiently and effectively.
From the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, our counties and cities have been at the trenches in responding to this deadly virus. Our local governments are providing many essential benefits at a time when our communities are struggling. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has depleted much of the revenue of local governments, which in turn has reduced many of the services that could be provided to individuals and families.
While the CARES Act provided much-needed relief for state and local governments through the Coronavirus Relief Fund, the cities that I represent in California’s 39th District did not meet the 500,000-population threshold required to receive direct aid under the bill. This means these cities are beholden to the state government in Sacramento to receive federal relief. Unfortunately, many of the cities within my district did not receive adequate relief to continue battling the pandemic. Any legislation considered by Congress and signed by President Biden should have a mechanism in place for local governments with a population of less than 500,000 to receive direct relief without having to go through Sacramento. I have met with local mayors in my district and have spoken with House Leadership about making our local governments a priority in any COVID-19 relief package.
I was elected to Congress to cut through the gridlock and get results for the 39th District. My door is open for anyone who is willing to work with me, even if we do not always see eye-to-eye. I recently helped to introduce the Getting Americans Safely Back to Work Act, which would create a COVID-19 program that, if enacted into law, would provide grants to small businesses and local governments to purchase PPE and other equipment used to contain COVID-19. We need to reopen our small businesses and schools, and this grant program would ensure that we can do so safely.
I have also worked with the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, in an effort to get funding for vaccinations and testing to our communities immediately, something we can all agree on. Additionally, I joined an effort to expand access to mental health resources during the pandemic. The Stopping the Mental Health Pandemic Act would create a grant program for state and local health entities to access additional tools and resources to meet patients’ mental health needs during COVID-19. I’ll continue to do all I can to bring relief directly to my constituents.
While I continue to be committed to working in a bipartisan way, I urge Congressional Democrats and the Biden administration to do the same and compromise to provide much needed targeted relief for our local governments, businesses and families. To date, all COVID-19 relief legislation that has become law has been bipartisan. Congress should come together to pass additional aid, but that can only happen if Democrats in Congress stop their partisan push and come to the negotiating table to work in the best interests of the American people. The only way we’re going to get through the pandemic is by working together.