FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: LAWMAKERS WANT FLEXIBILITY IN RELIEF SPENDING — Concerned that small cities hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic could get left behind by the American Rescue Plan, the all-Democratic Massachusetts congressional delegation is urging Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to provide "maximum flexibility" when it comes to funding guidelines.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Ayanna Pressley are among the Massachusetts officials who signed onto the letter, first reported in Playbook, along with Sen. Ed Markey and Reps. Katherine Clark, Richard Neal, Jim McGovern, Stephen Lynch, Bill Keating, Seth Moulton, Lori Trahan and Jake Auchincloss. Lawmakers in other states have also joined onto the letter to Yellen.

The American Rescue Plan uses a statutory formula to determine how much direct assistance to give cities and towns, which is based on population. That's caused a scramble in small Massachusetts cities. Chelsea, for example, was hit so hard by Covid-19 that it made national news last year. But the city's population of 40,000 falls short of a threshold that would allow it to unlock more funding. Newton, on the other hand, will get five times as much funding as Chelsea under the plan, because it has a population of 88,000.

"We must take additional steps to ensure our most vulnerable communities are not once again left behind," the letter says. Pressley is also urging the governor to direct more funds to hard-hit cities.


Original story here.