‘We were left out’: Lawmaker urges Congress to provide COVID-19 relief for rural communities

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WASHINGTON, (NEXSTAR) ─ When Congress passed the “CARES Act” – the $150 billion set aside for state and local governments was earmarked for those with more than 500,000 people.

Due to the population restriction, Rep. Antonio Delgado, D-New York, said his district, along with other rural governments across America have had to fend for themselves.

“We were left out,” Delgado said. “Our police officers, our firefighters, are in need of support in light of the shortage in regard to tax revenue.

As negotiations continue on the next coronavirus relief package, Delgado said Congress needs to focus on helping smaller cities and towns.

“Make sure all communities, all local government, no matter the size, no matter how rural, are going to be able to get some relief in this situation,” Delgado said.

Delgado has introduced legislation that would do just that, and it has bipartisan support.

But some Republicans argue that Congress should wait before sending additional funds elsewhere.

“[House] Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi has come out and said we need a trillion dollars in additional assistance for state and local governments. It’s hard for me to see how you can make a statement like that, not knowing what the original $150 billion has been used for,” Sen. John Thune, R-South Dakota, said.

Thune said the U.S. Department of Treasury’s recent decision to broaden how states can spend federal relief money may help local governments continue to pay for essential services.

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