The $350 billion in coronavirus relief funds for state and local governments has allowed U.S. cities to respond stronger and more nimbly to an ever changing COVID-19 pandemic, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on Wednesday.
In remarks prepared for delivery to a meeting of the US Conference of Mayors, Yellen said state and local governments have been creative in using the funding from last year’s American Rescue Plan to meet different needs at different times.
“Rather than one burst of money that could only be spent in certain ways, it called for sustained funding, and our Treasury team has worked hard so you can use the money as flexibly as possible,” Yellen added.
Minnesota has authorised over $80 million in funds from the program for health needs from rapid COVID tests to emergency surge staffing in hospitals, while St. Louis used $58 million from its allocation to spare residents from evictions and homelessness, supplementing rental assistance funds, she said.
Yellen struck an optimistic tone on the Biden administration’s sweeping “Build Back Better” social and climate spending bill, despite contentious congressional negotiations clouding its future.
“While we don’t know the final form this will take, it will revolutionize how we care for children in this country, invest in climate change, and overhaul the international tax system to ensure corporations pay their fair share,” Yellen said.