Officials displeased with lack of federal aid for state, local municipalities in new stimulus package

U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) said he was "devastated" that state and local governments were not provided federal funding from the recently-approved $900 billion stimulus package in response to the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Robert Pelaez)

Local officials throughout Nassau County, Long Island and New York voiced approval for a second coronavirus stimulus package totaling $900 billion being passed but were displeased with the lack of federal funding for state governments and local municipalities.

On Monday night, Congress approved the nation’s second stimulus package to aid people in the ongoing fight against the coronavirus pandemic. The bill, which passed in the House 359-53 and in the Senate 92-6, was sent to President Donald Trump.

The measure calls for direct payments of $600 to adults and children, payments of $300 per week for workers receiving unemployment benefits through March 14 and $20 billion in Economic Injury Disaster Grants.

“This agreement is far from perfect, but in this case, something is absolutely better than nothing and I am pleased we have finally passed new relief for our constituents and avoided a government shutdown after months of inaction by the Senate,” U.S. Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City) said.

U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove), along with Rice, has been vocal about the need for bipartisan work to provide federal aid since the beginning of the pandemic.  

Suozzi is a member of the Problem Solvers’ Caucus, a group composed of members of Congress from both sides of the political aisle. Suozzi touted his and his colleagues’ work in the caucus, which has now resulted in more federal aid to the American people, especially those who own local businesses.

 “Without the Problem Solvers, it is unlikely we would have gotten this far and I will not stop working until we get the relief our state and local governments need,” Suozzi said.

“This bill will provide new direct payments to individuals and families, expanded unemployment insurance, and provide new resources to help small businesses that are struggling to stay afloat,” Rice said.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo was blunt with his displeasure regarding a lack of state and local aid from the federal government but touted the work of U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for their efforts.

“They were in an impossible situation because you have Senator McConnell who still takes the position that you should bankrupt the states,” Cuomo said, referring to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. “The National Governors Association sent a letter to Congress asking for $500 billion in state and local assistance. Do you know what we got in this bill? Zero.”

Other officials were also displeased with state and local governments not being provided with financial aid.

“The new stimulus deal is a very good start,” Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said. “The need for relief has never been greater. Nassau County was the epicenter of a once-in-a-century crisis, and I will continue to advocate for the prioritization of emergency aid for state and local governments in the next relief bill.”

“Unfortunately, [the new package] does not provide enough resources for state and local governments who are also in desperate need of relief,” Rice said. “Our communities will need further federal assistance as we continue to combat this virus, and I will keep fighting for the resources Long Island needs to recover when Congress returns in the New Year.”

“I’m absolutely devastated that state and local aid is not included in this package because it will have such a negative effect on my state, and the counties, cities, towns and villages I represent,” Suozzi said. “I recognize, however, that too many people are suffering right now and there are many other important provisions in this compromise that will help Long Islanders and New Yorkers. We cannot let perfect be the enemy of the good.”

Suozzi has recently been more vocal on the need for federal funding to states such as New York, which pay far more to the federal government than they receive. 

From 2015 to 2019, Suozzi said, New York sent $116 billion more to the federal government than it got back. Over the same period, Kentucky received $148 billion and South Carolina received $87 billion more than they contributed to Washington.

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Robert Pelaez

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