Proposed federal COVID-19 response bill protects and expands the use of ARPA dollars for cities

Apr 6, 2022

The League of California Cities is urging city officials to contact their members of Congress and voice their support for this bipartisan bill.

A bipartisan COVID-19 response bill that protects and expands the use of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) dollars for cities is advancing through Congress. The "Bipartisan COVID Supplemental Appropriations Act” includes $10 billion for ongoing COVID-19 response, which would be funded by repurposing unspent COVID dollars from previous aid packages, but would not draw on any state and local recovery funds.  

The bill also includes language from the proposed bipartisan State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial Fiscal Recovery, Infrastructure, and Disaster Relief Flexibility Act (S.3011) led by Sen. Alex Padilla and Sen. John Cornyn. Their measure gives local governments expanded authority to use a portion of their ARPA recovery funds for transportation, Community Development Block Grant activities, and disaster response. The increased flexibility would help communities meet their recovery priorities more holistically and optimize investments.

Additionally, any project currently eligible for funding under the following programs would now be eligible for financing with COVID-19 relief dollars: 

  • Nationally Significant Freight and Highway Projects
  • National Highway Performance Program
  • Bridge Investment Program
  • Surface Transportation Block Grant Program
  • Metropolitan Transportation Planning
  • Carbon Reduction Program
  • Promoting Resilient Operations for Transformative, Efficient, and Cost-saving Transportation Grant Program
  • Tribal Transportation Program
  • Alternative Fueling Infrastructure
  • Federal Lands Transportation Program
  • Federal Lands Access Program
  • Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity Grant Program
  • Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act Program
  • Urbanized Area Formula Grants
  • Fixed Guideway Capital Investment Grants
  • Highway Safety Improvement Program
  • Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program
  • National Highway Freight Program
  • Rural Surface Transportation Grant Program
  • Formula Grants for Rural Areas
  • State of Good Repair Grants
  • Grants for Buses and Bus Facilities
  • National Culvert Removal, Replacement, and Restoration Program
  • Community Development Block Grant
  • Bridge Replacement, Rehabilitation, Preservation, Protection, and Construction Program

The League of California Cities has been working for nearly a year with Sen. Padilla and the National League of Cities (NLC) to advance greater flexibility in the use of ARPA funding, and the inclusion of the expanded eligible use of funds is a huge win for cities.

Cal Cities and NLC are asking city officials to contact their senators and representatives and voice their support for the $10 billion COVID response bill, which the Senate is expected to vote on when senators return from a two-week recess.