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Data: House Appropriations Committee; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: House Appropriations Committee; Chart: Axios Visuals

The COVID-19 relief law won't just inject $1.9 trillion into the U.S. economy — it gives states and cities a cash windfall that could trigger monetary melees.

Why it matters: From more than $42 billion for California to $1.36 billion for several states, governors and state legislators now have a pot of money to split. The decisions could get sticky in states with leaders from different parties.

  • "Each state will have its own priorities and its own debates about what the priorities should be," said Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas). "I just don't like governors playing shell games with federal money, especially folks like (Republican Texas Gov.) Greg Abbott, that don't put up any state money on these things."
  • Frank Cownie, mayor of Des Moines, Iowa, told Axios' Jason Clayworth that city officials remain uncertain about how the money can be spent — but have lots of ideas.
  • “Wouldn’t it be nice if we could use it at the city’s discretion to fix up streets, bridges, sewers, parks, sidewalks and all the stuff we had to cut back on this last year?” Cownie said.

Between the lines: The direct aid is being dispensed based on a formula in the American Rescue Plan allocating it not simply by population but by the number of unemployed people at the end of 2020.

  • The payout is intended to replenish coffers depleted by unexpected spending associated with the coronavirus. At the same time, state and local governments have seen tax revenue plummet from business closures and reduced consumer spending.
  • "We're able to do the spending that they can't do. They have to balance their budgets, and we can do deficit spending," said Rep. Lori Trahan (D-Mass.). "This is to get through it, quickly, so we can focus on our recovery."
  • Her state, led by Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, will receive $8.1 billion under the law. Baker will work with a Democratic House and Senate to dispense it.

While Wyoming will receive the largest share per resident — $2,350 — its lone House member, Rep. Liz Cheney, joined all her fellow Republicans in voting against the law.

  • "The people of Wyoming do not want to be in a position where our taxpayers are having to bail out governments, in states like California and New York, that have not conducted themselves in a responsible manner," Cheney told Axios.
  • "I think that, from an economic perspective, the damage that this massive new spending is likely to do is something that's going to be significant and with us for a long time, and is probably going to make it harder — not easier — for us to recover from the impact of COVID."

The bottom line: Some small- and medium-sized cities found themselves left out of previous stimulus rounds.

Go deeper: A spreadsheet with all the breakdowns

Go deeper

"Atmospheric river" to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood

A map depicting 24-hour preciptation forecast (inches) ending Monday at 5a.m. local time. Photo: NOAA

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are set dump historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest from this weekend, forecasters warn.

Why it matters: A strong atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, is predicted to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood.

10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves to be removed after fires

A firefighter looks up at a giant sequoia tree after fire burned through the Sequoia National Forest near California Hot Springs, California, on Sept. 23. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

"Upwards of" 10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves have been "weakened by drought, disease, age, and/or fire" and must be removed in the wake of California's wildfires, the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks announced.

Why it matters: The damage to these trees, considered "national treasures," and work to remove them means a nearby key highway must remain closed to visitors as they have "the potential to strike people, cars, other structures, or create barriers to emergency response services," per a statement from the national parks.

Obama stumps for McAuliffe, urges Virginians not "to go back to the chaos"

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Former President Barack Obama framed a Nov. 2 gubernatorial race as a bellwether for the Democratic Party and the country, telling a crowd at a campaign event for Terry McAuliffe on Saturday that "I believe you, right here in Virginia, are going to show the rest of the country and the world that we're not going to indulge in our worst instincts."

Why it matters: With just over a week to go before Election Day in the Commonwealth, McAuliffe is bringing out the big guns. The 44th president appeared on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University to urge supporters to get to the polls.