HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Congressional leaders have a lot on their plates during this lame-duck session – that’s the swing time between Election Day and the swearing-in of a new president.
A major item – the national budget to keep the government open. That is due next month on Dec. 10.
Another item, COVID relief funding.
Connecticut’s U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal is urging action. “In red states, in blue states in our cities and towns and states themselves are facing this fiscal vice.”
Democrat Sen. Blumenthal is pushing Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell to pass another COVID Relief Package before Thanksgiving.
“We can do the next pandemic relief package literally by the end of this week,” added Blumenthal.
He says the current price tag is anywhere from $2.2 trillion to $3.4 trillion.
The COVID package could include stimulus payments for families and loans for businesses to keep their doors open. And importantly, money for towns and cities like New Haven, which is facing a $13.2 million budget hole, less than six months into its new budget.
The mayor says police and fire overtime and lost revenues are the cause.
Mayor Justin Elicker said, “What’s going on right now is we are starving municipalities, and we desperately need help from Washington.”
The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities Executive Director Joe DeLong also says, “that direct aid needs to come with less strings attached than the first round of CARES Act funding did.”
The advocacy group, which represents all of Connecticut’s 169-municipalities believes lost revenue has to be part of the conversation.
Previous federal relief did not account for lost revenues at the local level, which means cities and towns could face massive property tax increases.
“The other thing cities and towns could do instead of massive property tax increases is to make massive cuts to local services,” added DeLong.
DeLong, Blumenthal and Elicker say funding is too urgent to wait for the inauguration of a newly elected president.
“Make sure we address the urgent need of towns and cities because they are the place where work gets done. The needs of society are met and roads are repaired,” said Blumenthal.
Senator Blumenthal says despite the lame-duck Congress, members can vote on a stimulus package if one is finally agreed upon. That would include a vote by Senator Kamala Harris, the Vice President-elect.