09/24/2020 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 09/24/2020 12:26
For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Elizabeth Hance (202) 225-4921
Palmer Legislation Aims for State Flexibility in Spending Remaining Coronavirus Relief Funds
Washington, D.C. - Congressman Gary Palmer (AL-06) has introduced the Coronavirus Relief Fund Flexibility Act (H.R. 8360), which would allow states to determine how to spend remaining Coronavirus Relief Fund dollars, which were issued under the CARES Act. States and localities were provided $150 billion through the relief fund for mitigation and response to COVID-19, and it is now estimated that approximately $80 billion remains unspent. H.R. 8360 would allow state legislatures to determine how to utilize these remaining funds, with measures to encourage infrastructure development and future COVID-19 preparedness.
'The initial legislation was perhaps too restrictive,' Palmer said. 'What we hope to do with this legislation is not only create some flexibility to prevent waste but to incentivize states to use the funds towards much needed infrastructure. The one-size-fits-all nature of the underlying measure fails to consider how each state is responding to the pandemic differently, so this legislation would put the spending decisions in the hands of those on the ground in the states who have a better understanding of their specific needs. If we pass this bill, we will give states a much needed boost for infrastructure and an extended period to determine how to address continued COVID-19 related expenses, instead of rushing to spend the funds with a looming deadline.'
The Coronavirus Relief Fund Flexibility Act would prohibit funds from being spent on government employee bonuses, lobbying expenses, or budget shortfalls predating the pandemic, while providing a 50% match for funds spent on infrastructure projects begun in the next year. It would also require states to hold 25% of their remaining relief funds in trust for future COVID-19 expenses.