For the third time in the last four weeks, Bob Menendez today trumpeted federal legislation to give $500 billion to local governments across the country.
But this time the senator was optimistic it actually would happen, saying he has gotten support from Republicans Susan Collins of Maine and Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi. GOP Sen. Bill Cassidy of
Louisiana was an original supporter.
Rep. Mikie Sherrill was on the press call as well to talk about bipartisan support in the House.
Republican Peter King of New York is a co-sponsor. Sherrill said it’s important to get federal aid to local
governments as quickly as possible.
There is no quibbling with the need. Revenue streams big and small are down all over the nation because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As Menendez put it, layoffs, furloughs and program cuts are a strong possibility “if the federal government doesn’t step up in a meaningful way.”
The bill would send the most money proportionately to areas where the virus infection rate and revenue loss are highest. That would certainly benefit New Jersey, which has been among the hardest hit
areas in the nation.
Menendez first talked about the bill on a conference call with Cassidy about a month ago. About 10 days ago, he discussed the idea again with mayors from across the state.
Then and now, a big obstacle has been Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, who awhile back suggested struggling states should just go bankrupt.
Menendez optimistically noted that it appears as if McConnell has changed his mind on that one. We shall see.