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A woman waits for a bus on a nearly empty street in downtown Chicago. Photo: Kamil Krzaczynski/AFP via Getty Images.

U.S. mayors have banded together to ask Congress for $250 billion in direct funding to help cities deal with the enormous costs of fighting the coronavirus pandemic while also facing significant revenue loss from shutdowns of local economies.

The big picture: Last month's CARES Act allocated $150 billion to state and local governments, which was $100 billion shy of the ask from the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

The catch: There were restrictions on that money that mayors say prevent it from meeting cities' needs.

  1. Only municipalities with over 500,000 residents are eligible for the funding, leaving out the vast majority of cities and towns. That requirement represents only about 14% of the total U.S. population and fewer than 1% of municipalities, said Kathy Maness, a town council member in Lexington, South Carolina — a state in which no city is large enough to qualify.
  2. While states received funding, cities say much of that funding went to counties, and that they need direct money without having to go through state governments.
  3. While the money was allocated to help cities deal with coronavirus-related costs, that does not help them shore up their budgets due to the pandemic's huge blow to their usual revenue sources.

What they're saying: On a call with reporters Tuesday, mayors acknowledged they don't know if $250 billion will be sufficient to keep municipal operations afloat.

  • "We hope that's enough," said Bryan Barnett, mayor of Rochester Hills, Michigan, and president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. "It's so early in the process in understanding the midterm and long-range impacts. We're not sure how quickly things will be able to ramp up" after stay-at-home orders are lifted.
  • "Our cities are hurting and our residents are scared, our business owners are facing unprecedented uncertainty, and our front line health care workers are overwhelmed," said Greg Fischer, mayor of Louisville, Kentucky. "The costs of the actions to take care of our cities right now are blowing massive holes in our budgets."
  • "If cities do not receive direct funding, it will be enormous drag on the recovery because we will not have the revenue to keep people working," said Nan Whaley, mayor of Dayton, Ohio, who noted a large number of city staffers not directly related to the coronavirus response have been furloughed.

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

Go deeper

Rahm Emanuel questioned on murder of Laquan McDonald in confirmation hearing

Rahm Emanuel during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing on Oct. 20. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel spoke about the murder of Laquan McDonald during his Senate confirmation hearing Wednesday to become the U.S. ambassador to Japan, saying that "there's not a day or a week that has gone by in the last seven years I haven't thought about this."

Catch up quick: McDonald was a Black teenager who was fatally shot 16 times by Chicago police during Emanuel's tenure as the city's mayor. The 2014 shooting triggered massive protests, both because of its nature and the fact that the officers' body-cam footage was concealed for years.

2 hours ago - World

Biden's ambassador nominee: "China is not an Olympian power"

Nick Burns testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden's nominee to serve as ambassador to China delivered a stark assessment of the challenges the U.S. faces in confronting Beijing, but stressed that the rising superpower is "not all-powerful" and the West retains "substantial" advantages.

The big picture: Nicholas Burns, a retired career diplomat and former U.S. ambassador to NATO, used his confirmation hearing Wednesday to echo the growing bipartisan consensus that China poses "the greatest threat to the security of our country and the democratic world" in the 21st century.

Scoop: U.S. and Israel to form team to solve consulate dispute

Secretary of State Antony Blinken (left) and Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (right) meet in Washington. Photo: Andrew Harnik/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. and Israel are planning to form a joint team to hold discreet negotiations on the reopening of the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem, Israeli officials say.

Why it matters: The consulate handled relations with the Palestinians for 25 years before being shut down by then President Donald Trump in 2019. Senior officials in Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's government see the consulate issue as a political hot potato that could destabilize their unwieldy coalition.