Facing December 30 CARES Act Expenditure Deadline, Spanberger Pushes for Extension of Timeline to Support Virginia State & Local Governments, Healthcare Providers, Small Businesses

Coronavirus Relief Fund Dollars Are Currently Required to be Spent by December 30, 2020, Threatening the Success of Ongoing Virginia Initiatives

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger today called on Congress to extend the deadline for Virginia to use awards from the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) beyond the end of 2020.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act — which Spanberger voted to pass earlier this year — currently requires that CRF funds be expended by December 30, 2020. In Virginia, communities have used CRF dollars to invest in wide-ranging COVID-19-related projects — including boosting testing and contact tracing efforts, strengthening high-speed internet connectivity, and improving ventilation in public schools. However, the approaching deadline threatens the completion and success of many of these projects and initiatives. Additionally, the uncertainty around the expiration of CRF dollars impacts Virginia’s ability to plan for how to finance the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine that will likely begin later this month.

In a letter sent to congressional leaders in both parties, Spanberger highlighted how state and local governments have used CRF funds to support critical projects in Central Virginia — and she called on Congress to act before the end of the year to extend the deadline to use CRF funds to the end of 2021.

“Through targeted relief, the CARES Act saved jobs, prevented businesses from being forced to shutter their doors, and saved lives through money for testing, personal protective equipment, and hospitals,” said Spanberger. “Importantly, the CARES Act helped address many structural inequities exacerbated by this crisis by providing states and localities flexible funding that could be used to address the specific needs of their communities through the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF).”

Spanberger continued, “Unfortunately, the CARES Act currently requires that the CRF funds be expended by December 30th, 2020. This deadline threatens the success of these projects. While local governments have been working at a record-breaking pace to advance these projects ahead of the end-of-year deadline, they have faced obstacles and delays outside of their control. Many of the needed supplies are backordered as communities across the countries adapt to the pandemic. Contractors qualified to complete these projects are limited. Building new infrastructure in the midst of a pandemic poses unique challenges that can delay project completion, such as interruptions caused by illness or local shutdowns, delays in permitting caused by closures and irregular hours, and shortages for materials caused by supply chain disruptions. In addition, the current deadline for CRF funds allows no room for any interruptions that might be typical for projects of similar magnitudes, such as unexpected equipment breakdowns or delays caused by inclement weather.”

“The provision of CARES Act funding has been absolutely vital to support local public health departments, and so many others, working to help navigate our communities through this devastating pandemic.  While much good work has been done, we may not even be at the halfway point of our response,” said Dr. Danny Avula, Director, Richmond City and Henrico County Health Districts. “We need continued funding to do the challenging and necessary work of testing, tracing, and supporting isolation and quarantine, so that we can accelerate our recovery.”

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, Congresswoman Spanberger has been an unrelenting champion for long term care residents, patients and caregivers. She has gone above and beyond to ensure that they had the needed funding to purchase enough PPE, testing supplies and to retain adequate staff,” said Keith Hare, President & CEO, Virginia Health Care Association and Virginia Center for Assisted Living. “It is imperative that Congress extend time to use the CARES Act funding to ensure that long term care providers can continue to protect the most vulnerable citizens in the Commonwealth.”

“While we are working to optimize the broadband expansion possible under the 2020 deadline, we see great opportunities for the federal funds to deliver better outcomes through more cost-effective construction methods if the deadline is extended,” said Gary Wood, President & CEO, Central Virginia Electric Cooperative (CVEC). “There are also multiple locations where unserved low and moderate income communities cannot be reached this year due to the time required for railroad crossing permits; an extension of the deadline would bring critical infrastructure into those areas within months.”

“Virginia’s free and charitable clinics would greatly benefit from an extension of the current year-end deadline for the use of CARES Act CRF funding,” said Rufus Phillips, CEO, Virginia Association of Free and Charitable Clinics. “This would allow our 59 member clinics to continue vital initiatives, such as telemedicine, to reach and serve vulnerable populations that are more susceptible to COVID-19 as well as complete essential safety measures and infrastructure modifications that will better protect patients and clinic staff during the ongoing pandemic.”

Click here to read the full letter, and the full letter text is below.

Dear Speaker Pelosi, Leader McConnell, Leader Schumer, and Leader McCarthy,

The spread of the coronavirus within our nation’s communities has strained our healthcare systems beyond capacity, shuttered local businesses, and closed schools nationwide, turning the lives of everyday Americans upside down. From the start of this pandemic, I have been proud to work with both Republicans and Democrats to pass bills providing relief for the American people – including the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Through targeted relief, the CARES Act saved jobs, prevented businesses from being forced to shutter their doors, and saved lives through money for testing, personal protective equipment, and hospitals. Importantly, the CARES Act helped address many structural inequities exacerbated by this crisis by providing states and localities flexible funding that could be used to address the specific needs of their communities through the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF). Localities have been investing these funds in projects that address the varying impacts of COVID, including broadband internet, which has been critical to allowing people to conduct work and school remotely, and better ventilation in schools, making it safer for children to return to in-person learning.

Unfortunately, the CARES Act currently requires that the CRF funds be expended by December 30th, 2020. This deadline threatens the success of these projects. While local governments have been working at a record-breaking pace to advance these projects ahead of the end-of-year deadline, they have faced obstacles and delays outside of their control. Many of the needed supplies are backordered as communities across the countries adapt to the pandemic. Contractors qualified to complete these projects are limited. Building new infrastructure in the midst of a pandemic poses unique challenges that can delay project completion, such as interruptions caused by illness or local shutdowns, delays in permitting caused by closures and irregular hours, and shortages for materials caused by supply chain disruptions. In addition, the current deadline for CRF funds allows no room for any interruptions that might be typical for projects of similar magnitudes, such as unexpected equipment breakdowns or delays caused by inclement weather.

Because of these circumstances, it is imperative that we extend the deadline for the use of CRF funding. I urge you to use any additional COVID-19 relief or any end of year appropriations bills considered by Congress before the end of the year to extend the deadline to use CRF funds to the end of 2021. Extending this deadline through the end of next year will empower localities to complete critical projects that are vitally important to both weather the pandemic and rebuild after it is over.

Thank you for your consideration of this request.

 

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