State and local governments may be in line to breathe a financial sigh of relief from a new bipartisan deal on emergency COVID-19 funds unveiled by congressional lawmakers on April 4.

The Bipartisan COVID Supplemental Appropriations Act will allocate $10 billion for domestic COVID response programs, and is fully offset by repurposing $10 billion in unspent funds from prior pandemic relief measures.

Congressional lawmakers initially looked to rescind funds already promised to states to help pay for the latest COVID-19 legislation. If the new package becomes law, however, state and local government leaders can breathe easy as congressional lawmakers ultimately turned to other sources to fund the new legislation, including money from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, rather than the funding already promised to states.

Specifically, states will no longer be losing any money from the ARPA funds previously promised to them, after several House Democrats objected to $7 billion being pulled from that aid to fund the latest spending package.

The new $10 billion funding deal would provide money requested by the Biden-Harris administration to keep up the nation’s COVID-19 public health response. The funds are allocated to help with the cost of vaccines, tests, therapeutics, and other supplies.

Included in the new package is also a bipartisan measure – which passed the Senate last year – proposed by Sens. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Alex Padilla, D-Calif., that provides states and local entities additional flexibility to use ARPA’s Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund for infrastructure and disaster relief, and to help smaller governments comply with program requirements. This bill will also allow Tribal governments additional time to use CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Fund allocations.

The new funding package still requires approval from both houses of Congress.

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Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez is a MeriTalk State and Local Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.