Congressional Black Caucus Calls for Bypassing States on New Jobs Bill

As the $787 billion stimulus law nears its one-year anniversary, Congress’ choice to route the lion’s share of recovery funds through state capitals — including state DOTs where misplaced priorities are all too common — remains a sore spot for mayors and urban advocates.

184_Afghanistan_Muted_Reaction.sff.embedded.prod_affiliate.80.jpgCBC Chair Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) (Photo: AP)

Today the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) joined the chorus urging President Obama — who joined the Black Caucus during his time in the Senate –to reconsider the first stimulus’ state-centric approach.

In a letter to Obama, the CBC suggested several strategies aimed at focusing Democrats’ upcoming jobs bill on cities, suburbs, and towns where the sting of joblessness is being felt most keenly. The Black Caucus members wrote:

With each provision, we would urge you to direct funding through the federal agencies directly to localities: county/city/municipality/college/university or nonprofit organization, rather than through the state, to be quickly disbursed and used by the most economically depressed communities.

Other items on the CBC’s jobs bill to-do list: expanding the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program, which directly aids local projects, and the Neighborhood Stabilization Fund, a stimulus-funded effort to help productively retool foreclosed homes in the nation’s most recession-ravaged areas.

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