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More than 400 mayors have signed onto a joint letter asking Congress to pass President Joe Biden's relief package.

PMG FILE PHOTO - Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, who leads Oregon's largest city, signed a letter calling for Congress to pass President Joe Biden's proposed COVID-19 relief package.Seven mayors from Oregon number among more than 400 signatories on a letter from the U.S. Conference of Mayors calling on Congress to take up and pass President Joe Biden's COVID-19 relief bill.

The American Rescue Plan, as the Biden administration calls it, is a gargantuan $1.9 trillion proposal that includes direct assistance to local governments — a top ask for mayors and county leaders — as well as additional funding for COVID-19 vaccine distribution and public health efforts to ramp up testing and contact tracing for the coronavirus.

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler has signed onto the letter, which is dated Jan. 29. So have Tigard Mayor Jason Snider and Gresham Mayor Travis Stovall, whose cities are among Portland's largest suburbs.PMG FILE PHOTO - Tigard Mayor Jason Snider is one of more than 400 mayors calling on Congress to pass a $1.9 trillion relief package.

Other signatories from Oregon include Eugene Mayor Lucy Vinis, Bend Mayor Sally Russell, Albany Mayor Alex Johnson and Corvallis Mayor Biff Traber.

The American Rescue Plan would direct $350 billion to state and local governments, providing a financial shot in the arm as many of them reel from the coronavirus and an accompanying economic recession.

"Providing direct, flexible aid to cities is the most efficient and immediate way to help families and their communities who have been suffering for far too long," the letter states.

The letter describes congressional action to approve the relief package as "a crucial step to making meaningful progress in one of the most challenging moments in our country's history."COURTESY PHOTO: CITY OF GRESHAM - Gresham Mayor Travis Stovall has signed onto a U.S. Conference of Mayors letter asking Congress to pass President Joe Biden's COVID-19 relief plan.

The bill's prospects in Congress are uncertain. Democrats control the House and have the numerical edge in the Senate, which is split 50-50 but allows Vice President Kamala Harris to vote on the floor if the vote count is tied.

However, Republicans can still mount a filibuster, effectively preventing an up-or-down floor vote on the bill in the Senate, and at least two key Democratic senators have signaled they will oppose efforts to take away the minority's power to filibuster.

Democrats have floated the idea of using a procedure known as reconciliation to pass a COVID-19 relief package, which would bypass a potential filibuster, although it is unclear if all 50 Democratic senators are on board.


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