Negotiations are underway for a fourth phase of federal economic relief, and a Western New York member of the House of Representatives believes the bipartisan support will be there for a deal he anticipates will be worked out by mid May. Congressman Tom Reed wants that deal to include provisions that ensure local governments get needed aid with no interference by the state.
Reed, a Corning-based Republican representing the Southern Tier, explained the protections he desires as a two-fold plan.
"We have to make sure that whatever we secure, for direct federal aid for local governments, is protected from the state governors offices, reaching in and reducing their traditional or established budgetary lines that go to local governments, through their traditional support lines where they share revenue and assistance to the local governments in their budgetary process," Reed said during a Tuesday conference call. "And we have to make sure that those efforts at the state level are made maintained at the previously established amounts."
Reed also expressed concern for money that would go directly to state governments to compensate for COVID-19 related expenses. He wants the fourth phase bill to ensure those dollars, too, are ultimately used for the purposes for which they're intended.
He estimates this round of relief could be up to $2 trillion, a level consistent with infrastructural spending President Donald Trump had previously sought. As Reed sees it, COVID-19 has damaged numerous elements of the nation's economic infrastructure, from agriculture and industry to mortgage payments.
As for when to reopen the economy, the congressman recognizes May 15 - currently the last day of New York's PAUSE order - as a "realistic date," though he adds that he and his colleagues will push to consider a sooner start, if feasible.
"Every day we are shut down, (devastation) continues to go off exponentially," he said. "Given the nature of the virus, given the nature of the virus exposure, to the hospitalizations that we're seeing in the region, the lessons that we've learned, up to date of the COVID-19 situation, I think there's a solid argument to be made that we could do it earlier. But that being said, I do recognize that May 15 seems to be this magic date that has been drawn in the sand by the governor."