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Johnson discusses his proposed legislation allowing states to use unspent COVID relief monies for infrastructure

Rep. Johnson's office

This interview is from SDPB's daily public-affairs show, In the Moment, hosted by Lori Walsh.

South Dakota's lone congressman wants more flexibility for states spending COVID-19 relief money.

Republican Dusty Johnson is working with Democratic Congresswoman Carolyn Bourdeaux from Georgia. They are sponsoring the State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial Fiscal Recovery, Infrastructure, and Disaster Relief Flexibility Act.

It would allow states to use unspent relief funds on infrastructure, disasters, and housing projects.

Johnson says South Dakota has hundreds of millions in leftover money.

“And that is, that's a lot of money. And again, we wouldn't want a state to have to rush and spend that up to the deadline because it was a use it or lose it situation. And so this bill, just gives them the flexibility that they need to be able to spend it not just on a narrow thing that the bill said there, it expands it, on things that will get a long-term economic return.”

Johnson says the bill would also allow states to give unused funds back to the U.S. Treasury.

President Biden signed the $1.9 trillion-dollar American Rescue Planin March to help combat the economic fallout of the pandemic.

Lori Walsh is the host and senior producer of In the Moment.
Megan hosts All Things Considered and the SDPB News podcast.