President Biden on Friday urged U.S. mayors to use their state and local COVID-19 relief aid to pay for worker education training programs, child care and other social programs to boost the economy in cities.
Speaking at the U.S. Conference of Mayors winter meeting, Mr. Biden said the funds will reduce inequality and improve life for residents.
“Use the resources in the rescue plan,” he said. “The resources that were intended not just to stave off disaster but to build for a future around the people who make communities run.”
Under the $350 billion State and Local Fiscal Relief Fund, which was part of last year’s COVID-19 relief package, cities have wide latitude on how to use the money.
The Treasury Department this month issued final rules for the funds, giving cities greater flexibility on how the money is spent.
The president ticked off a litany of ways in which he said states could use the funds to help workers, including funding union apprenticeships, childcare costs and paid temporary leave for workers sick from the COVID-19 virus.
“Give people in every zip code a chance to deal for themselves, to deal them into this booming economy,” he said.
Mr. Biden’s plea to the mayors is part of the administration’s plan to get a handle on inflation. Consumer prices surged as much as 7% last year, the biggest increase in nearly 40 years.
Among the reasons for inflation is a lack of workers in some sectors, leading demand to outstrip supply. By using the COVID-19 relief funds to invest in workers, Mr. Biden said it would give some communities an economic boost.
Mr. Biden also hyped his $1.75 trillion social welfare and climate plan, known as the Build Back Better Act. It was an unusual move, given Mr. Biden’s concession this week that he would be willing to break up the plan and try to get pieces of it passed in the Senate.
Some Democrats have pushed Mr. Biden to divide the measure into smaller pieces and get the most popular items passed before the midterm elections.
On Friday, Mr. Biden still told the mayors that the big bill was the solution for everything from climate change to the struggling economy.
“The biggest weapon in our arsenal is Build Back Better,” he said. “Nothing is going to do more to ease pressure on families.”
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