Joyce Calls on Congress to Expand Coronavirus Relief Fund Flexibility for State and Local Governments

WASHINGTON – This week, Congressman Dave Joyce (OH-14) joined Congressman Bob Latta (OH-05), Bob Gibbs (OH-07), Warren Davidson (OH-08) and Anthony Gonzalez (OH-16)in urging Congress to provide states and local governments with more time to use critical funding provided by the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF).

The CARES Act provided $150 billion in direct assistance for states and local governments through the CRF to help communities make the expenditures necessary to combat COVID-19. However, CRF funding can only be used for expenses that were incurred between March 1, 2020 and December 30, 2020. This timeline also applies to the delivery of products or the rendering of services. Many local administrators across OH-14 have expressed concern about this timeline, especially as some CRF funding only recently made their way to states and localities ($16.5 million in CRF funding was just disbursed to Lake County on October 23, 2020). Joyce and his fellow lawmakers wrote to the House Ways and Means Committee Chairman and Ranking Member requesting their support to extend the amount of time states and local governments have to use the CRF funding to obtain products and services.

“We believe Congress should amend the CRF program to extend the amount of time states and local governments have to use the funding to obtain products and services to December 31, 2021,” the lawmakers wrote. “As the country continues to navigate the spread of COVID-19, we must build upon the work we accomplished together in the Spring in order to provide more flexibility to our local communities.”

Most recently, the Concord Township Administrator informed Joyce’s office that much of the safety equipment, testing and other COVID-19 response supplies the Township ordered will not arrive until 2021 due to high demand. Therefore, Concord would not have receipt of their purchases until after the December 30th deadline, making them ineligible CRF purchases under the CARES Act. Joyce’s office has heard similar concerns echoed across OH-14.

The full text of the letter is listed below and can also be found here.

Dear Chairman Neal and Ranking Member Brady;

Thank you for your continued leadership on behalf of the American people and for your efforts to provide relief to communities negatively impacted by the outbreak of COVID-19. We/I write to you today to bring an issue to your attention and call on Congress to rectify it in any additional coronavirus relief legislation that the U.S. House of Representatives may consider.

When Congress passed, and President Trump signed into law, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, we sought to provide financial assistance to states and local communities that were in dire need. The CARES Act established the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) program to direct financial assistance to communities to make any expenditures that were necessary to combat COVID-19. The problem is that the funding can only be used for expenses that were incurred during the period between March 1, 2020 and December 30, 2020.

After speaking with the Treasury Department, it is clear this restriction also applies to the delivery of products or the rendering of services. For example, if a township purchases an Emergency Medical Service vehicle with CRF assistance and that vehicle is not delivered until after December 30th, it would be deemed an illegal purchase. Due to the increase in demand for certain products, we are experiencing slower response times for private industry to process, manufacture, and deliver orders. We/I believe Congress should amend the CRF program to extend the amount of time states and local governments have to use the funding to obtain products and services to December 31, 2021.

As the country continues to navigate the spread of COVID-19, we must build upon the work we accomplished together in the Spring in order to provide more flexibility to our local communities. Thank you again for the work that you both have done as leaders of the Ways and Means Committee, and we urge you to consider this request.

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