April 15, 2020

Wyden to Introduce Bill to Make Small, Rural Communities Eligible for Relief Funds

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., today announced he will join U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., to introduce legislation that would provide $250 billion in stabilization funds geared towards communities with populations under 500,000 that are struggling in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Rural communities across Oregon are facing huge health risks and stark economic uncertainty due to COVID-19,” Wyden said. “It’s critical that these small communities receive the relief they need to weather this economic storm and recover from this health crisis. More needs to be done, but this bill is a step in the right direction to help rural Oregon through an unprecedented pandemic.”

Communities across the United States, including smaller counties, cities and towns, are currently dealing with COVID-19-related costs that include deploying emergency operations, public service announcements and telework services. Each of these communities need direct stabilization funds to address the pandemic, replace lost revenue and recover economically when this public health emergency has passed.

The Coronavirus Community Relief Act would ensure that all communities receive the direct relief they need to continue the COVID-19 pandemic fight and allow additional flexibility on how state and local governments could use funds to mitigate the economic crisis caused by COVID-19. Under this bill, funds disbursed to state and local governments with a population under 500,000 could use the funds for costs such as lost revenue, reimbursement for expenses already incurred and increases in costs reasonably believed to have been caused or as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Coronavirus Community Relief Act is also cosponsored by U.S. Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Doug Jones, D-Ala., Patty Murray, D-Wash., Tom Udall, D-N.M., Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Maria Cantwell, D-Wash.

A copy of the bill text is here.