Today, members of the Pennsylvania Republican Congressional Delegation, including Congressman Dan Meuser, Congressman Glenn "GT' Thompson, Congressman Mike Kelly, Congressman Scott Perry, Congressman Lloyd Smucker, Congressman Guy Reschenthaler, Congressman John Joyce, and Congressman Fred Keller, made the following statement in response to Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf's decision to withhold nearly $13 million in CARES Act funding to Lebanon County:
"Governor Wolf's announcement yesterday that he would be restricting pandemic relief funds to Lebanon County is a clear example of political retribution at the expense of more than 140,000 Pennsylvanians. By refusing to release this funding to Lebanon County, the Governor's office is exceeding its authority in distributing relief funds, which were designated for all Pennsylvanians, by both the state and federal governments. Amidst an unprecedented public health crisis, it is unconscionable for the Governor to punish his constituents in order to settle political scores."
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provided direct funding for states and some localities, including roughly $4.9 billion in direct funding for Pennsylvania. PA House Bill 2510, signed into law by Governor Wolf as Act 24, allocated portions of this funding to various programs at the state level and created the COVID-19 County Relief Block Grant program.
Section 130-C of Act 24 lays out the requirements for a determination of a county's eligibility for funding, concluding that all counties would receive formulaic funding based upon their population.
The Pennsylvania DCED added additional requirements to Act 24, mandating counties to follow all state-issued closure orders to guarantee eligibility for the program.
Because Lebanon County did not initially follow such orders, they have been denied nearly $13 million in funding to assist their residents amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
These new parameters set forth by the Wolf Administration are in direct conflict with the PA General Assembly's legislative intent of the County Relief Block Grant program.
Further, these requirements are not in line with guidance from the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the federal entity responsible for distributing CARES funding to the states.