Sen. Kennedy introduces bill to give states flexibility in using coronavirus relief funds

Coronavirus

Commuters crowd Cadorna train station in Milan, Italy, Monday, May 4, 2020. Italy began stirring again Monday after a two-month coronavirus shutdown, with 4.4 million Italians able to return to work and restrictions on movement eased in the first European country to lock down in a bid to stem COVID-19 infections. (Claudio Furlan/LaPresse via AP)

WASHINGTON – On Tuesday, Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) introduced the Coronavirus Relief Fund Flexibility for State and Local Government Act to give state and local governments more flexibility as they use funds provided by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

“Local and state governments are struggling to serve their people in the face of an incredible health crisis. Louisianians know all about weathering hard providences. While it’s not the federal government’s job to bail out local and state officials who spent recklessly, giving those governments the flexibility to do maximum good for their communities—with money they already have—is a no-brainer. This bill gives state and local leaders the chance to regain their fiscal footing without putting American taxpayers on the hook for even more spending,” said Kennedy.

The Coronavirus Relief Fund Flexibility for State and Local Government Act would allow states and local governments to use CARES Act funding for operating expenses unrelated to the coronavirus. This bill does not allow officials to spend this CARES Act money on shoring up their pension funds.

The CARES Act established the $150 billion Coronavirus Relief Fund, which has provided payments to state, local and tribal governments to help them respond to the coronavirus pandemic. Every state received at least $1.25 billion from this allocation.

Currently, state relief funds expire on Dec. 30, 2020. States are required to send unused funds back to the U.S. Treasury. This legislation would allow state and local governments to continue using these funds until they are expended.

View the full bill here.

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