On Dec. 28, 2020, President Donald Trump signed a $2.3 trillion coronavirus relief and government funding bill into law, averting a government shutdown and extending billions of dollars of coronavirus aid to residents and businesses.
The National League of Cities’ (NLC) summary of this 5,000+ page bill is available online. Importantly, direct local aid for cities of all sizes, a top priority for GMA and cities across Georgia in 2020, was not included in this package. The needs of Georgia’s cities have not gone away, and GMA will work with members of Congress and the Biden Administration to achieve assistance for cities in 2021.
As we head into the 117th session of Congress and work with a new administration in the White House, it is helpful to get an understanding of the political lay of the land. With the election of Georgia’s two new senators, Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, Democrats will gain a majority in the U.S. Senate. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) will shortly be the new majority leader of the body. Schumer will drive the agenda and decide what bills get put on the floor, which might impact the chances that a relief package with state and local aid will make it into a next bill. Georgia delegation members are also expected to hold key committee roles that will be important to GMA’s efforts to advance city priorities, including infrastructure and rural broadband deployment.
In the coming months, GMA will be working closely with members of Georgia’s congressional delegation and NLC to provide them with information they can use in their conversations with the new administration, as well as Senate and House leadership and key committees to help try to shape legislation that can be added to a possible relief package.
Our message and case for aid to cities must be data-driven, and GMA will continue to solicit information from GMA’s entire membership about service cuts, budget shortfalls, capital improvement projects being delayed and other quantitative data to document the impact of the pandemic on your residents and businesses. It will be vital for us to arm leadership and all members of Georgia’s delegation with this data to make sure we have support for municipal priorities in Congress. As always, specific numbers and local stories will remain key to making the case that aid for cities and states is critical. We must continue to educate and build allies, remain in touch with veteran members of Congress, and build relationships with Georgia’s new U.S. House and Senate members.
GMA’s most important asset and voice in this fight is you: city officials. GMA’s staff will continue to fight and stand shoulder to shoulder with you in 2021.
This story originally appeared in the January/February 2021 edition of Georgia’s Cities magazine.