September 10, 2020

Cassidy, Collins, Hyde-Smith Call for Swift Passage of Legislation to Provide $500 Billion to Local Governments Amid COVID-19 Crisis

WASHINGTON — U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) filed the State and Municipal Assistance for Recovery and Transition (SMART) Act as an amendment to the Senate COVID-19 relief package today.  Consideration of the relief package received the support of a majority of Senators by a vote of 52-47, but it failed to reach 60 votes required to advance.  

Senators Cassidy, Collins, and Hyde-Smith emphasized the urgent need to advance the SMART Act which they introduced earlier this year with Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Joe Manchin (D-WV), and Cory Booker (D-NJ).  Without federal assistance, governors and local leaders have warned that budget shortfalls caused by the coronavirus crisis will require deep cuts to essential services and layoffs or tax increases.

“State and local aid seems to be a main sticking point in negotiations. The SMART Act strikes a balance between both sides’ demands, which increases the likelihood of a broader COVID relief bill passing. Our goal is to help those who need it. This is not the time for politics as usual,” said Dr. Cassidy.

“With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to devastate our public health and our economy, towns and cities across our country are facing increasingly significant new challenges and plummeting revenues at the exact same time,” said Senator Collins.  “The SMART Act is a good example of how the Senate and the House should negotiate on a bipartisan basis. Let’s enact the SMART Act as part of the next coronavirus package to help prevent widespread furloughs of state and local public servants and avoid cuts to essential services at the worst possible time for working families.”

“I’m disappointed with the stalled COVID-19 relief negotiations, but I consider this SMART Act amendment a sign of optimism that we will eventually work together to help avoid significant layoffs, tax hikes, and essential services disruptions in our communities and states.  The economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic will be with us for the foreseeable future, and our bipartisan proposal should be included in any relief package sent to the President,” Senator Hyde-Smith said.

Last month, Senators Collins, Menendez, and Cassidy spoke from the Senate floor to urge the Senate to swiftly pass the SMART Act.  The bipartisan SMART Act would provide $500 billion in emergency funding to every state, county, and community in the country.