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Bipartisan senators propose $500B rescue fund for states

A pair of bipartisan senators is proposing that a $500 billion fund for state governments to use in response to the coronavirus outbreak be part of the next stimulus package passed by Congress in the weeks or months ahead.

Sens. Bill CassidyBill CassidyThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden's crisis agenda hits headwinds Bipartisan Senate gang to talk with Biden aide on coronavirus relief McConnell about to school Trump on political power for the last time MORE (R-La.) and Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezBiden must wait weekend for State Department pick Senate presses Biden's pick for secretary of State on Iran, China, Russia and Yemen Year-end deal creates American Latino, women's history museums MORE (D-N.J.) said in a joint press release Sunday that the fund would build on $150 billion already allocated to various states in the package passed by lawmakers and signed by President TrumpDonald TrumpNYT: Rep. Perry played role in alleged Trump plan to oust acting AG Arizona GOP censures top state Republicans McCain, Flake and Ducey Biden and UK prime minister discuss NATO, multilateralism during call MORE in late March.

The bill they plan to announce "ensures every eligible entity receives additional funding, increases flexibility for states and local governments to use the funds to plug revenue losses due to the COVID-19 outbreak, and targets additional funding toward coronavirus hot zones to combat the pandemic head-on," according to their press release.

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“Sen. Menendez’s state and mine were hit hard by the COVID-19 epidemic. I thank him for his partnership,” Cassidy, a medical doctor, said in the press release. “We worked hard to make sure state and local governments can maintain essential services necessary for employees and employers to survive. We must protect Americans’ financial future.”

"As a former mayor, I understand the incredible toll fighting this pandemic is having on cities, towns and states on the frontlines to both wage this war and continue to support their local health departments, pay teachers and first responders, fix the roads and maintain the parks," added Menendez. 

"The COVID-19 pandemic may not know state borders, but it has certainly hit some states and regions harder than others. The proverbial house is on fire, and we need to focus the water on the hotspots, because if we don’t put the flames out, they will only jump until the entire block is up in smoke," the New Jersey Democrat said.

Cassidy and Menendez's bill comes in response to calls from the National Governors Association, headed by Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) and New York Gov. Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoDisjointed vaccine distribution poses early test for Biden Three National Guardsmen killed after military helicopter crash in New York New York City reschedules 23,000 vaccination appointments due to supply issues MORE (D), for more resources for states in the weeks ahead.

“We still need more federal resources directly to the states that are on the front lines of this crisis,” Hogan said at a press conference in March. “We’re gonna come back and ask for additional funding for the states and local governments to help with this crisis in the next round of stimulus.”