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Sen. Bill Cassidy. Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Sens. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) on Sunday proposed a $500 billion fund for state and local governments to be included in Congress' next coronavirus rescue package.

Why it matters: The $2 trillion stimulus bill passed by Congress last month provided direct payments to Americans and relief for small businesses, but did not include funds specifically intended to kickstart state economies that have been wiped out by the pandemic.

  • Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), the respective chairman and vice chairman of the National Governors' Association, have been vocal in demanding that Congress allocate money for states.
  • Cuomo last week accused lawmakers of engaging in "pork-barrel politics" and failing to address state budget shortfalls.

How it works: The senators' proposal would divide the funds into three tranches, according to Bloomberg.

  • The first tranche would be allocated proportionally based on states' percentage of the total U.S. population, with all states and D.C. set to receive at least $1.25 billion. Cities and counties with populations above 50,000 would also be eligible for specific aid.
  • The second tranche would be allocated based on the state's share of the total number of U.S. infections.
  • The third would be based on the state's loss of revenue resulting from shutdowns and stay-at-home orders.

What they're saying: Menendez said in a statement, "The proverbial house is on fire and we need to focus the water on the hot spots, because if we don’t put the flames out, they will only jump until the entire block is up in smoke."

  • Cassidy said: "Senator Menendez’s state and mine were hit hard by the Covid-19 epidemic ... 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."

Worth noting: Democrats have sought to include funds for state and local governments in a supplemental bill that would add money to the Paycheck Protection Program. Negotiations are still ongoing, but comments from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Sunday signal that the money for states will not be in the final bill.

Go deeper: The next economic crisis will hit states and cities

Go deeper

Updated Jul 31, 2020 - Health

Coronavirus testing still can't keep up with demand

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Testing is once again becoming a critical weakness in the America's response to the coronavirus pandemic, and experts say we may need to revive tighter standards about who can get a test.

Why it matters: Although testing has gotten a lot better over the course of the pandemic, the pandemic has gotten worse, and that means the U.S. needs to prioritize its resources — which might mean that frequent testing solely to help open businesses or schools just isn't feasible.

Jul 31, 2020 - Economy & Business

Health care industry tops list of most-favored amid coronavirus

Data: Harris Poll COVID19 Tracker Wave 20; Chart: Axios Visuals

Doctors, nurses and hospitals have experienced a greater increase in consumer trust and confidence than any other industry during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new Axios/Harris poll.

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