Given that the public health and economic challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic will last well past the end of this year, U.S. Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) introduced bipartisan legislation to extend the current year-end deadline for states to use federal CARES Act assistance – as well as any future funding to state and local governments – through 2021.
Senators Hassan and Grassley’s bipartisan State and Local Coronavirus Relief Fund Extension Act will be particularly important for states that wish to use CARES Act funding to build out their broadband services to improve telework, telehealth, and remote learning capabilities, as broadband construction can take many months.
“Granite Staters and Americans across the country are continuing to grapple with the devastating public health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic – and unfortunately, it is clear that these challenges will continue beyond the end of this year,” said Senator Hassan. “On top of the federal funding provided by the CARES Act, I have been pushing for additional funding to state and local governments in the next COVID-19 relief bill. One of the important uses of this federal funding is expanding broadband access so that people can use telehealth services, work remotely, and engage in online learning. That’s why it’s particularly critical that states can use existing funding – or any future federal funding – for broadband construction and other projects that are essential to responding to the pandemic, but will not be completed before the end of the year. I urge my colleagues to include additional state and local funding in the next COVID-19 relief funding, and ensure that this funding can be put to use beyond the end of this year.”
“As part of the CARES Act, Congress approved $150 billion in aid funding to state and local governments,” said Senator Grassley. “This money has helped meet the needs of health care providers, schools and other institutions across the country. Our bill extends the end-of-year deadline so states and local governments can continue to utilize this help, especially for more significant projects like improving broadband, which has proved a critical asset while we all rely more on telework, remote learning and even telemedicine.”
Read the bill text here.