WASHINGTON, DC (NEXSTAR) — A House coronavirus panel heard from mayors across the U.S. Friday about what they still need from the federal government to safely reopen and stabilize their economies.
Local governments are currently trapped between Democrats advocating for a swift outpouring of funds and Republicans favoring a more cautious approach.
While negotiations continue, mayors told the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis that they are left wondering how to manage major budget shortfalls.
“We are your soldiers on the frontline ready to take that money,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. “To save our economy and save our people.”
Garcetti and other city leaders advocated for the $375 billion Democrats included to help them in their latest relief bill, the HEROES Act.
“Cities need real money: direct, flexible and targeted assistance,” said Columbia, SC Mayor Stephen Benjamin.
Mangum, OK Mayor Mary Jane Scott told lawmakers rural hospitals also need funding that is not restricted to pandemic-related expenses.
“We are fighting to keep our great hospital open,” Scott said.
Garcetti also stressed an infrastructure package along with more aid for small businesses will save jobs.
“We have already entered what is a Greater Depression here in Los Angeles,” he said.
However, Democrats and Republicans are still at odds over how much additional money they should set aside, as well as where and when it should be sent.
“These cities need emergency federal relief now to prevent a collapse of their economies and public functions,” said Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, D-SC.
“No relief package we pass can substitute for a fully functioning economy, and all of that goes with an open and free society,” said Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-LA.
The final outcome now lies in the hands of the Senate, where negotiations with the White House continue.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, has indicated this fifth coronavirus bill would be the last and likely come down within the next month.