Lawmakers Question ARPA Spending

Cities and states say the American Rescue Plan Act has been crucial to keeping the lights on during the pandemic, but some Republican lawmakers denounce spending on projects unrelated to COVID relief.

March 22, 2022, 9:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


athrasher / Cash

"A year after President Biden signed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act into law, states and localities have used their $350 billion share of direct aid to provide Covid-19 vaccines, give workers on the frontlines of the pandemic extra pay, and to boost local economies." But as Kery Murakami reports, some lawmakers are questioning spending on projects that aren't pandemic-related. "For instance, states have earmarked the money to build monuments, create museums, tear down at least one abandoned university dormitory, and to carry out construction on courthouse buildings, according to a National Conference of State Legislatures database."

"This criticism has grown as more states report budget surpluses and as the GOP, during a midterm election year that will decide control of Congress, is seizing on the idea that the spending Democrats backed in the American Rescue Plan has contributed to a rising wave of inflation," writes Murakami. "The 152 cities and counties the National League of Cities, Brookings Metro and the National Association of Counties have been tracking have only decided what to do with 48.6% of their ARPA dollars."

Supporters of ARPA say it "has been instrumental in helping state and local governments weather the pandemic's economic fallout and for supporting their response to the health crisis" by replacing lost revenue and helping cities maintain essential services.

The source article details how states have spent ARPA funds so far and the rationales given for the projects.

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