US Mayors Say Menendez SMART Act Meets Their Calls for Direct, Robust, Federal Help

US Mayors Say Menendez SMART Act Meets Their Calls for Direct, Robust, Federal Help

USCM resolution urges Congress to act quickly to pass State, Local funding bill

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM), representing more than 1400 cities across the country, passed a resolution endorsing U.S. Senator Bob Menendez’s (D-N.J.) bipartisan State and Municipal Recovery and Transition (SMART) Act and calling on Congress to quickly pass legislation that would provide direct, flexible, federal assistance to states, cities and counties to help address the unprecedented public health and economic challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The USCM endorsement resolution states:  

“WHEREAS, without direct fiscal assistance, cities will not be able to provide critical resources to address the crisis, and will not be able to take the necessary steps to reopen safely and deliver effective services;  WHEREAS, the SMART Act (S. 3752) would provide $500 billion in federal relief and funding to state and local governments while targeting federal resources to states, counties, and cities severely impacted from COVID-19; and WHEREAS, the funds provided by the SMART Act (S. 3752) would, among other things, help states, cities and counties meet fiscal obligations, expand testing capacity and contact tracing, and provide further assistance to residents, local hospitals, small businesses, and schools, in addition to maintaining critical services residents depend upon; 

“NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that The United States Conference of Mayors thanks the sponsors of the State and Municipal Assistance for Recovery and Transition (SMART) Act (S. 3752/H.R. 6954) and urges Congress to promptly enact legislation that provides direct and flexible fiscal assistance to state and local governments, ensuring that states, cities, and counties have the financial resources to address the unprecedented public health, economic, and fiscal challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“I am not going to stop working on behalf of our cities, states and communities on the frontlines of this devastating pandemic, fighting for the health, safety and economic security of the American people,” Sen. Menendez said.  “I introduced this bill to answer our mayors’ calls for help—just as they’ve answered ours—and their endorsement will be immensely impactful in getting it over the finish line.” 

“Our cities are on the frontlines of the pandemic, working each day to respond to COVID-19 and keep our residents safe.  But with tax revenues down and costs rising, we are struggling to maintain the essential services our residents and businesses depend upon,” said Elizabeth, N.J. Mayor Chris Bollwage, the resolution’s chief sponsor. “The SMART Act will provide each municipality with direct, flexible, federal funding to help us avoid steep service cuts and mass layoffs of first responders, public health and other critical workers we need to address this public health crisis.  I want to thank Senators Menendez and Cassidy for their leadership and working together to find commonsense, bipartisan solutions to help our communities during this challenging time.” 

The USCM resolution was cosponsored by Mayors Bollwage; Noam Bramson, New Rochelle, N.Y.; Brian C. Wahler, Piscataway, N.J.; and Gary R. McCarthy, Schenectady, N.Y. 

Sen. Menendez introduced the SMART Act with Republican Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy, M.D. to provide $500 billion in direct, flexible federal assistance to frontline state and local governments struggling to address the COVID-19 crisis and avoid mass layoffs, service cuts and tax hikes in the face of plummeting revenues.  The bill was introduced with Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) as original cosponsors.  Companion legislation was introduced in the House, led by Reps. Mikie Sherrill (D-N.J.-11) and Peter King (R-N.Y.-02). 

Despite its broad, bipartisan support and many state and local governments with imminent constitutionally-mandated budget deadlines, Congress has failed to consider a fourth COVID-19 stimulus bill.  Already, nearly 1.5 million public employees have been laid off or furloughed since March.

 

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