Western State Leaders Urge Federal Support for State and Local Governments in Responding to COVID-19, House Considers $3 Trillion Relief Package

Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, federal and state leaders continue to attempt to respond to significant economic relief needs nationwide. Below, we highlight these actions:

Western States Pact Urges $1 Trillion for State and Local Governments

This week, Governor Gavin Newsom announced governors and legislative leaders from California, Colorado, Oregon, Nevada, and Washington sent a letter to Congressional leaders requesting $1 trillion in direct and flexible financial relief for state and local governments amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The letter urges Congress to preserve core government services such as public health, public safety, and public education, as well as assist residents in returning to work. Notably, during Governor Newsom’s May Revision press conference on Thursday, he again plead for federal government support to avoid having to roll back previously proposed investments and cut other programs and services to meet the state’s projected budget shortfall.

U.S. House of Representatives to Vote on HEROES Act

The U.S. House of Representatives is currently in the process of considering the $3 trillion Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act. At the time of publication, the House continues debate on the measure; a vote is expected later this evening. The sprawling proposal aims to support state and local governments, businesses and employees, and key public health and health services. Specifically, the act would provide nearly $1 trillion to state, local, territorial, and tribal governments, establish a $200 billion hazard pay fund for essential workers, provide a second round of economic impact payments of $1,200 per adult, expand sick leave, unemployment compensation, housing assistance, and nutrition and food assistance, and provide $10 billion for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program. Further, $75 billion would be allocated for COVID-19 testing, contact tracing, and isolation measures and workplaces would be required to establish infection control policies and procedures, among other key areas.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi worked throughout the week to attempt to secure enough Democratic support for the measure, despite most Republicans and some Democrats expressing opposition to the massive relief measure. Even with today’s consideration in the U.S. House, the HEROES Act faces an exceedingly difficult path forward. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell indicated the package was a “totally unserious” proposal and the Trump Administration threatened to veto the measure should it make it to the president’s desk.

While the measure, in its current form, is unlikely to gain further traction, it is widely expected that the House proposal will spark further negotiations among Congressional leaders and the White House to provide additional economic relief amid the ongoing pandemic.