Buchanan Wants COVID Deadline Extended
WASHINGTON – Manatee County could lose as much as $30 million in coronavirus funds if a spending deadline is not extended by Congress, U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan warned today.
In a letter sent to House speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate leader Mitch McConnell, Buchanan said local governments across the country face the same problem unless Congress acts before the end of the year.
The money was provided under the CARES Act, but much of it has been unspent due to delays in receiving the funds and confusing regulations from the Treasury Department. The deadline to spend the money is Dec.30, at which point it will be returned to the federal government.
Manatee County officials, who reached out to Buchanan’s office for assistance, have said they could lose $30 million in unspent funds if the deadline is not extended.
“Our communities still need the money, but they encountered obstacles in allocating the funds to meet the deadline,” Buchanan said. “As the virus continues to spread it’s critical that our communities have the resources they need. We can’t cut off funding in the middle of a public health crisis.”
Buchanan also outlined several priorities for the three-week congressional session that begins today.
The list includes passing his legislation to reform military training after the accidental death of a Bradenton soldier.
“This is going to be a short but important lame-duck session that requires action on several fronts,” Buchanan said. “Both parties need to work together and put aside partisan divisiveness.”
Buchanan also said he will work over the next several weeks to:
- Provide coronavirus relief. Buchanan is pushing Congress to enact a bipartisan coronavirus package that includes extended unemployment benefits, funding for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for schools, liability protection for non-profits, schools and small businesses.
- Reform military training. Buchanan’s military reform proposal, which was included in the House-passed version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), requires the Pentagon to examine emergency medical response services and capabilities at U.S. military bases around the world. The measure passed the House earlier this year and is supported by U.S. Senate Armed Services Chairman Jim Inhofe and House Armed Services ranking member Mac Thornberry.
- Protect children from predators. Buchanan will continue to push for passage of his CREEPER Act 2.0 to protect children from predators. The legislation will help reduce pedophilia by banning the sale of lifelike child sex dolls used by predators to “normalize” their behavior. All three county sheriffs in FL16 have endorsed the bill as well as national child protection and victim support organizations.
- Secure America’s medical supply chain. Buchanan is working to include his bill, the Securing America’s Medicine Cabinet Act, into a future coronavirus relief package or final year-end government spending bill. The bill would create a new federal office responsible for stockpiling adequate supplies of critical medicines and encourage companies to ramp up the manufacturing of those drugs. 80 percent of the raw ingredients used to manufacture many life-saving medications and antibiotics are produced overseas, primarily in China.
- Help seniors plan for retirement. Buchanan will continue to push for passage of his bill, the Know Your Social Security Act, which helps Americans plan for retirement by making it easier to access critical information about their Social Security benefits. The bill passed unanimously out of the House Ways and Means Committee earlier this Congress.
Read the full text of the letter below:
Dear Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader McConnell:
As Congress works to address many important priorities before the end of the year, I urge you to ensure that communities like mine across the country can use coronavirus relief funding beyond the current year-end deadline.
As you know, under the CARES Act passed in March, Congress provided $150 billion in financial assistance for state and local governments reeling from the coronavirus pandemic. This funding has served as a critical lifeline to my district and countless others across the country which have been severely impacted by growing COVID-19 caseloads, rising costs, and significant revenue losses.
This funding can be used in a wide variety of ways including for the purchase and distribution of personal protective equipment and medical supplies for first responders and front-line health care workers, increased testing, COVID-19-related expenses of public hospitals and health clinics, as well as for food delivery to area residents, including seniors and other vulnerable populations.
However, due to an arbitrary deadline, local governments must fully expend these funds by December 30th, 2020 or else return any remaining money to the federal government. And while they have worked responsibly to use these funds since they first became available to them in July, Manatee County, located in my Congressional district, is extremely concerned about their ability to exhaust all of the funding by year’s end and could lose as much as $30 million that they desperately need and deserve.
That is why I am calling on Congress to help our communities by extending the looming deadline.
I look forward to your reply and appreciate your attention on this timely and critically important matter.