WTVR, SHELBY BROWN
In the midst of a global pandemic, supporting Virginia governments, small businesses and healthcare providers is a pretty tall order.
That’s the goal of CARES Act relief funds that Congress allocated back in the spring.
The money is aimed at covering COVID 19-related projects and must be spent by December 30. Now, some lawmakers like Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger say it’s impossible.
She recently sent a letter asking Congress to extend the deadline into late 2021.
“What I’m hearing on the ground from school districts, from local community leaders, to free clinics, to nursing homes and from those who are working to get broadband to our communities, is that they cannot spend the money before the deadline for reasons outside of their control,” Spanberger said. “So, in school districts looking to update their ventilation systems, it’s hard to get not just the supplies you need, but the skilled workers scheduled to do it.
“Secondly, we don’t have the vaccine yet, so we can’t be spending money creating the supply chain here in Central VA,” Spanberger added.
Lawmakers say extending the coronavirus relief funding ensures free clinics in underserved communities can deliver vital support to keep people safe, tested and healthy.
“I think it’s a straight forward and necessary change to extend the deadline,” said Spanberger. “I’m asking for the extension through the end of next year in some of my negotiations related to the next COVID relief package. We have taken the steps of having that be included, perhaps not through the end of the year, but the end of the government’s fiscal year.”
In order to get the deadline extended, which has bipartisan support, Congress can wrap it into their next coronavirus relief bill or incorporate it into their end of year spending bills.