Working to Finish the Fight Against Coronavirus | Congressman Lee Zeldin

Working to Finish the Fight Against Coronavirus

May 11, 2020
Press Release
Op-ed by Congressman Lee Zeldin

As one of the hardest hit hotspots in the entire country, Long Island’s local governments have been on the frontline of the battle against coronavirus, and they will be critical in finishing the fight. In addition to continuing to provide our communities with vital Personal Protective Equipment and other resources, we must ensure they have the direct local funding they need to recover economically in light of historic budgetary shortfalls caused by the ongoing outbreak of coronavirus.

Our communities shuttered Main Streets and ceased almost all economic activity to prevent the spread of this pandemic. As a result, our local governments have incurred massive financial losses due to expenses and lost revenue and now face historic, enhanced budgetary shortfalls. 

Of course our goal should be to reopen our nation as soon as possible in a safe manner that prevents another outbreak, but for Long Island’s local governments the damage is already done. These are the localities that support our first responders, teachers, nurses, sanitation workers, transit workers, and many more, all of whom are vital contributors to our communities. We needed them before the pandemic, we need them now, and we will need them as we strive to emerge from this outbreak stronger than ever.

That’s why we must ensure our local governments have the direct funding they need to recover fiscally, and I’m not alone in this effort. I was joined by Congressman Tom Suozzi in leading the entire New York Congressional delegation in urging Congressional leadership to provide local governments of all sizes direct funding, and, equally as important, the flexibility to not only use it for future expenses but also lost revenue. 

Congressman Antonio Delgado and I introduced legislation, which is supported by the National Association of Counties and New York State Conference of Mayors, to do just that. This bipartisan proposal would create a fund that would provide our nation’s cities, towns, villages, and counties with direct federal assistance that provides necessary relief on lost revenues and increased costs caused by the outbreak of coronavirus. Our proposal requires that money be appropriated into two funding pots - one for cities, towns and villages and a second for counties. 

These bipartisan efforts build on continued nonpartisan progress. In addition to securing over 1.2 million pieces of PPE for Suffolk County just last month, I’ve worked with others in government to deliver $257 million in federal funding for the Suffolk County government, while also working to provide Long Island taxpayers with critical tax relief, by successfully getting the Municipal Liquidity Facility’s federal financing assistance expanded to include Suffolk County.

We must continue to fight the battle against coronavirus not as Democrats first or Republicans first, but as Americans first, and on Long Island every level of government has worked together to lead by example. I look forward to continuing to work in a nonpartisan manner to deliver the resources Long Island needs to emerge from this outbreak stronger than ever before.

Congressman Lee Zeldin represents New York’s First Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives where he serves as a member of the bipartisan Congressional Coronavirus Task Force and the White House’s Opening up America Again Congressional Group.