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Ohio House approves second round of federal COVID relief funds

Sign outside fast food restaurant in suburban Columbus
Karen Kasler
Statehouse News Bureau
Sign outside fast food restaurant in central Ohio suburb in 2021. Money from the American Rescue Plan Act is meant, in part, to help businesses struggling with the public health and economic impacts of COVID-19.

Ohio lawmakers in the House voted to release another round of federal stimulus dollars in relation to COVID-19 pandemic relief.

More than $420 million is earmarked for local governments around Ohio with a population of under 50,000 people.

Rep. Thomas Hall (R-Madison Twp.) said this is a second round of funds from ARPA. The first round was released in June 2021. Hall noted that the U.S. Department of Treasury released new guidance for how the funds can be used.

“To allow for more things to be paid for out of these funds than in the first round that we got,” said Hall.

The American Rescue Plan Act sent more than $5.4 billion to Ohio which was part of the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package proposed by President Joe Biden. An additional $6.6 billion was sent directly to larger Ohio cities.

Republicans in Ohio and around the country fought against the stimulus package. But the Ohio House bill to release the additional funds received bipartisan approval.

The Ohio Democratic Party pushed back on Republicans who argued against the American Rescue Plan Act, such as Gov. Mike DeWine.

“No thanks to Mike DeWine, Ohio communities are about to receive critical investments that will help working families recover from the pandemic and move our state forward. While we’re glad Republicans, including DeWine, have recognized how important the American Rescue plan is to Ohio’s recovery, it’s unacceptable for them to try to fool Ohio voters into thinking they had anything to do with it,” said Matt Keyes, Ohio Democratic Party spokesperson.

Hall acknowledges he also disagreed with the move from Biden and Congress to enact the American Rescue Plan Act. But as Hall noted, since the money has already been approved on the federal level, Ohio might as well put it to use.

“I've been joking that this is a use it or lose it type of situation and I would hope that our communities would be able to use the monies here first. If they don't agree, they don't want to monies, they do not have to use them. We're just trying to give them this avenue,” said Hall.

The Ohio Senate is expected to hold hearings on the bill and pass it out of the chamber in the next few weeks.

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