U.S. cities, left behind in COVID-19 aid, look for lifeline in Biden era

WASHINGTON/REHOBOTH BEACH, Del. (Reuters) – In Washington’s months-long political slugfest over who should get aid to counter the financial damage from the COVID-19 pandemic, there was at least one clear loser: local government.

In the midst of cutbacks in workforce and emergency services and growing poverty, U.S. cities, especially the smaller ones, are hoping the next round of stimulus includes them and that President-elect Joe Biden advocates for them when he takes office on Jan. 20.

The latest coronavirus bill for $892 billion in aid – painstakingly negotiated over months and begrudgingly signed into law last week by President Donald Trump – left a bad taste in some mayors’ mouths.

In Dayton, Ohio, population 140,000, Mayor Nan Whaley noted that Congress voted to restore a “three-martini lunch” corporate tax break and approved money to bail out theaters in the aid bill. “But they left the cities out. I have a real problem with that,” the Democratic mayor told Reuters after Congress passed the bill.

Her city will not be able to hire a new class of police and firefighters in 2021 without emergency funding from Washington, she said.

Under Biden’s guidance, a Democratic-crafted bill is likely to seek an infusion of hundreds of billions in cash to help state and local governments, compelled by the toll of the pandemic. He has called for a bipartisan effort in January. Reuters News

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