Gov. Evers: State agencies prepping to return federal COVID aid under debt deal

Gov. Evers: State agencies prepping to return federal COVID aid under debt deal

BROWN DEER. Wis. (CBS 58) -- State agencies may have to return unspent federal pandemic aid under a tentative deal reached between President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to raise the nation's debt ceiling to avoid a U.S. government default.

Gov. Tony Evers told reporters Tuesday his administration is planning whether state officials would have to return a portion of the billions sent to Wisconsin and other states to help them recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

"We haven't heard anything because I don't think the actual document exists," Evers said during an event in Brown Deer. "So, we are planning all across our agencies at what is known and how much money we would have to send back but at this point in time we're not anywhere near because they aren't anywhere near soup yet."

The bill to extend the debt limit for two years includes federal spending cuts and a series of policy provisions including rescinding about $30 billion in unused Covid relief funds. It would claw back money from dozens of federal programs that received funding during the pandemic such as rental assistance, small business loans, and broadband programs for rural areas.

It's unknown how much money Wisconsin may have to return.

A state program that offers rental assistance would not be impacted under the bill, according to a spokeswoman at the Department of Administration.

"The Wisconsin Emergency Rental Assistance program would not be affected given that those funds have already been expended and the program closed to new applications back in January," said Tatyana Warrick, a spokeswoman at DOA.

Warrick added they will continue to monitor the conversations at the federal level and will work closely with our local and federal partners related to pandemic relief funds.

A spokeswoman for Evers office declined to comment on which specific agencies would be impacted and how much money is at risk as they "await further information and details" of the proposal.

If approved for consideration on the floor this week, the House is expected to vote on the 99-page bill known as the Fiscal Responsibility Act Wednesday.

President Biden and Speaker McCarthy have predicted they will get enough votes to pass the proposal before June 5, the deadline with the Treasury Department says it will not have enough money to pay its bills.

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