Minority leader Kevin McCarthy, joined by the California Republican delegation in the U.S. House of Representatives, sent a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom requesting he immediately release federal funding from the Coronavirus Relief Fund created by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
According to local health officials, Newsom has threatened to withhold this funding from several counties if they refused to comply with state shutdown mandates.
California received $15.3 billion in funds from the Coronavirus Relief Fund earlier this year, $9.5 billion of which was disbursed to the state with the intention of the state sending the money to smaller counties.
However, California's 2020 budget "tepidly" directs only $1.8 billion in federal funding to cities and counties, including some that had already received payments directly from the U.S. Treasury, the lawmakers complain.
"This funding is needed to help counties and cities train contact tracers, expand local healthcare capacity, and provision any other assistance needed," they wrote. "Yet as of July 1st, California has delivered almost none of this Federal aid to local governments and counties.
Picking winners and losers
"By withholding CRF payment disbursements from these localities, the State is creating winners and losers. In addition, guidance issued by the U.S. Department of the Treasury regarding implementation of the CRF clearly says that States cannot impose restrictions on transfers of funds to local governments that go beyond requirements outlined in Section 601(d) of the Social Security Act. Accordingly, we believe that the State may be inappropriately withholding CRF funds to localities by imposing conditions on such disbursements that are inconsistent with the Treasury Department’s guidance and Section 601(d) of the Social Security Act."
The letter was signed by McCarthy and California Republican Reps. Tom McClintock, Devin Nunes, Doug LaMalfa, Ken Calvert, Mike Garcia and Paul Cook.
Read the full letter here.