Urge Congress to Pass Federal COVID-19 Aid Flexibility

Bipartisan legislation aims to provide state and local governments flexibility to invest a portion of the American Rescue Plan Act’s (ARPA) Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (Recovery Funds) in transportation, infrastructure, and government services.

As previously reported on Conduit Street, the U.S. Senate last month passed S.3011 – State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial Fiscal Recovery, Infrastructure, and Disaster Relief Flexibility Act, legislation that would allow counties nationwide to use a total of over $27 billion for new transportation and infrastructure projects and over $17 billion for government services.

This bipartisan bill, pending before the U.S. House of Representatives, expands the eligible uses of these funds to include infrastructure, disaster relief, housing, community development, and other investments that will generate long-term economic returns.

Allows Counties to Use ARPA Recovery Funds for Transportation, Infrastructure, and Community Development Block Grant Projects

The bill would allow counties to use the greater of $10 million or 30 percent of their ARPA Recovery Fund allocation for a wide variety of transportation infrastructure projects, including:

Source: National Association of Counties

In addition to using Recovery Funds for new transportation and infrastructure projects, S. 3011 would allow counties to use funds to invest in projects authorized under the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program. As with transportation and infrastructure projects, counties could use up to $10 million or 30 percent, whichever is greater, of their total Recovery fund allocation for these projects.

Allows Counties to Use ARPA Recovery Funds for Government Services

The bill would allow counties to consider up to $10 million of their ARPA Recovery Fund allocation as if it were “lost revenue” and eligible toward the provision of government services, as defined by the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Interim Final Rule, including but not limited to:

  • Maintenance of infrastructure
  • Pay-go construction of infrastructure, such as roads (pay-go refers to “paying-as-you-go” or utilizing current revenue rather than borrowing against it, ex. by issuing a bond)
  • Modernization of cybersecurity, including hardware, software, and protection of critical infrastructure
  • Healthcare services
  • Environmental remediation
  • School or educational services
  • Provision of police, fire, and other public safety services

While this legislation provides much-needed flexibility, it neither mandates funds for any particular purpose nor increases overall federal spending. The legislation would also cap funds that a recipient could use for the newly eligible activities, thereby ensuring Recovery Funds continue to address the public health emergency.

How to Help

The National Association of Counties (NACo) sent a letter to U.S. House leadership urging swift passage of S. 3011.

Click here to download a county template letter to advocate for the swift passage of this critical legislation.

Visit the NACo website for more information.

Congress can help lead states, local governments, and critical infrastructure toward a more cyber-secure future by authorizing the use of ARPA funds to bolster cybersecurity.

At the MACo Winter Conference session, “Ransomware, Risk, and Recovery: Is Your County Cyber-Secure?” an expert panel will explain why updating outdated technology platforms is vital for reducing cybersecurity risks, enhancing service delivery, and boosting government transparency and accountability.

The 2021 MACo Winter Conference, “Time to Reboot: Tomorrow’s Tech Today,” will be held on December 8-10, 2021, at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Hotel in Cambridge, Maryland.

Learn more about MACo’s Winter Conference: