Rep. Omar Leads Letter to the Treasury Department Calling for Guidance on the Coronavirus Relief Fund Distribution

March 31, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON—Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) sent a letter to the Treasury Department today calling for guidance to U.S. governors that ensures that the Coronavirus Relief Fund is distributed in a timely manner to cities with more than 50,000 residents and ensures that smaller communities do not get left behind.

Last week, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into law. The legislation establishes a $150 billion Coronavirus Relief Fund, which will help State and local authorities cover the direct costs associated with the response to this public health emergency. Without proper implementation, it is possible that local governments with a population under 500,000 may not receive any of the available funds—including every city in Minnesota.

“Unfortunately, the CARES Act includes language that defines the minimal level of local government as a population of 500,000,” Rep. Omar wrote. “In Minnesota, and many other hard-hit states, not a single city meets this population threshold, and without clear direction from Treasury, funds could be caught in a bureaucratic nightmare. As governors focus on state-wide priorities, it is critical that mayors have the resources to provide real-time support for communities on the frontlines of this unprecedented pandemic.”

“In particular, the Department should provide governors with guidance to ensure the fair and expedited distribution of funds to cities and struggling communities. Treasury should model the distribution of Coronavirus Relief Funds with existing federal grant distribution models that ensure that no community or city is left alone in serving residents who are desperate for relief.”

A PDF of the letter can be foundPDF iconhere and the full text of the letter is below.

The Honorable Steven T. Mnuchin Secretary
U.S. Department of the Treasury 1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20220

Dear Secretary Mnuchin:

I respectfully write to encourage the Treasury Department to provide guidance to U.S. governors that ensures that the Coronavirus Relief Fund is distributed in a timely manner to cities with a population of more than 50,000 and ensures that smaller communities are not left behind.

Last week, Congress passed and the President signed Public Law 116-136, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. This legislation establishes the $150 billion Coronavirus Relief Fund, which will help State and local authorities cover the direct costs associated with the response to this public health emergency.

Unfortunately, the CARES Act includes language that defines the minimal level of local government as a population of 500,000. In Minnesota, and many other hard-hit states, not a single city meets this population threshold, and without clear direction from Treasury, funds could be caught in a bureaucratic nightmare. As governors focus on state-wide priorities, it is critical that mayors have the resources to provide real-time support for communities on the frontlines of this unprecedented pandemic.

In particular, the Department should provide governors with guidance to ensure the fair and expedited distribution of funds to cities and struggling communities. Treasury should model the distribution of Coronavirus Relief Funds with existing federal grant distribution models that ensure that no community or city is left alone in serving residents who are desperate for relief.

I appreciate your service and prompt attention to this important matter.

 

Sincerely,

Ilhan Omar

Member of Congress