The Globe’s March 26 editorial, “Congress failed Chelsea in COVID-19 relief law,” overlooked essential victories that our delegation secured.
I agree that Chelsea and other disproportionately impacted communities deserve more funding to address the awful challenges of the pandemic. Yet it’s vital to understand that Senators Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren shepherded the American Rescue Plan through the Senate with only 51 votes in support of aid to America’s cities and towns. They succeeded in passing the bill on a razor’s edge. Creating a new aid formula was not a possibility. Disputing the Community Development Block Grant formula ― the only federal formula for distributing aid to localities — would have killed $65 billion in relief. To manage the formula inequities, our delegation provided huge aid levels to our state government, $4.5 billion, enabling Governor Baker to address the disparities.
In addition, US Representative Ayanna Pressley deserves special recognition. Working with her colleague on the House Committee on Oversight, Representative Stephen Lynch, she ensured that the bill kept nearly $1 billion in federal aid in Massachusetts. That’s because one section of the American Rescue Plan provided direct aid to every county in the nation. Since eight regions of Massachusetts have abolished county government, including Suffolk County, it was possible that we would lose this aid. Instead, our federal delegation sprang into action and added a provision to redirect those funds to our local governments. That provision will send $7.6 million in additional aid to Chelsea. Without this leadership, we would have lost those funds. That is the kind of leadership that effective lawmakers provide.
Geoffrey C. Beckwith
Executive Director and CEO
Massachusetts Municipal Association