House committee passes $350 billion state COVID relief fund including $661 million for Guam

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The House Committee on Oversight and Reform has passed a momentous package of $350 billion in critical assistance to help communities across the country battle coronavirus, including $661 million for Guam.

The legislation allocates funding to states, localities, tribes, and territories to fight the coronavirus pandemic and its devastating economic impacts.

The bill would create new state and local coronavirus relief funds to keep first responders, frontline health workers, and other providers of vital services safely on the job as states, local governments, tribes, and territories roll out vaccines and fight to rebuild their economies.

“This is basically support for local governments and we have been able to have certain amounts reserved for specific territories. For Guam, that would be $661 million in relief for the local government,” San Nicolas said during a news conference.

He added that this funding can be used to respond to or mitigate the public health emergency with respect to COVID-19 disease or its negative economic impacts.

The funding would also cover costs incurred as a result of the pandemic and replace revenue that was lost, delayed, or decreased as determined based on revenue projections for the state or territory.

San Nicolas said this is a very broad allowable expense that can address the negative economic impacts of the pandemic emergency.

“That $661 million could be part of a pot of money that GovGuam can use to help revive our tourism industry as we try to get back onto the road to recovery,” he said.

He added that the $661 million would be on top of and an added benefit to the amounts that have already been given to the local government by the feds.

“So we’re looking forward to that funding absolutely going to support our COVID-19 response. But I also want the local leadership to be aware that this funding will also be available to address revenue shortfalls and the negative economic impacts of the COVID-19 emergency,” San Nicolas said.

Under the package, 60% of the funds would go to states and 40% to localities. Local governments of every size would receive dedicated allotments.

Funds are available until expended, awarded directly from Treasury within 60 days of enactment, and subject to eligible uses including to replace revenue lost, delayed, or decreased as a result of the pandemic.

For the territories, $4.5 billion has been allotted — $2.25 billion divided equally and $2.25 billion based on population.