Senator Murray Helps Pass Bipartisan Bill to Allow Unspent COVID Relief Dollars for Culvert Removal, Infrastructure, and Disaster Relief

Bill will allow state, local, and Tribal governments to direct unused federal COVID relief funds for infrastructure projects, such as culvert removal, as well as natural disaster relief

(Washington, D.C.) – Last night, following the U.S. Senate passing the State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial Fiscal Recovery, Infrastructure, and Disaster Relief Flexibility Act, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), who cosponsored the legislation celebrated the passage of the bill, which will make several categories of infrastructure investments, such as culvert removal, and disaster relief eligible for unspent COVID-19 relief dollars. It also extends the deadline to utilize relief funding if budgeted for eligible infrastructure projects.

“Nobody knows how to solve the challenges that state and local governments are facing better than state and local governments, and I’m glad we were able to get them the flexibility they need to best support the people they serve with relief money they already have,” said Senator Murray. “From critically needed culvert removal that will help us recover the salmon runs that are foundational to our economy and culture here in Washington state to emergency relief for communities that have been hit hard by a really tough wildfire season—I know the flexibility this legislation provides will help communities across Washington state and build back stronger and fairer.”

The State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial Fiscal Recovery, Infrastructure, and Disaster Relief Flexibility Act would provide additional flexibility for States, Tribes, and units of local government to spend their allocations of the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds on certain infrastructure projects.

There is a cap—the greater of $10 million or 30% of the funds—on how much of the COVID money can be spent on these new purposes (though the previous ARP set asides for water, wastewater, and broadband remain unrestricted). The bill also allows these funds to be used to provide emergency relief from natural disasters and creates a process for local officials to decline funds if their jurisdictions did not suffer budget shortfalls during COVID, an option not currently available to them under the American Rescue Plan. Text of the bill is available here. It does not place spending mandates on recipients of COVID funding and does not reclaim any distributed funding.

Endorsees: The National Governors Association, National Congress of American Indians, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the National League of Cities, American Road & Transportation Builders Association, National League of Cities, Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, American Public Transportation Association, Associated General Contractors of America, National Association of Development Organizations, Associated Equipment Distributors, American Subcontractors Association, American Highway Users Alliance, Government Finance Officers Association, Design-Build Institute of America, National Association of Surety Bond Producers, National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association, American Traffic Safety Services Association, American Public Works Association, American Concrete Pipe Association, National Ready Mixed Concrete Association, National Association of County Engineers, American Concrete Pavement Association, American Foundry Society, and National Association of Regional Councils.