As Congress begins to develop a fourth phase of its stimulus package to combat the COVID-19 outbreak, Rep. Tom Reed said that he is “firmly committed” to fighting for aid for local governments in the upcoming legislation.

Reed, who represents the Greater Olean area, said that phase four will likely come between May 15 and the beginning of June, but could be delayed into the middle of June.

“Looking at COVID-19 like the natural disaster that it is, there is a tremendous demand for recovery dollars that need to be identified,” Reed said on his Tuesday media call. “You look at industries such as agriculture, the issue of state and local aid, and I think it’s time to consider those who worked throughout this situation and maybe give them a financial bonus.”

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Reed said that he estimates the magnitude of the package could be another $2 trillion.

“Securing direct local aid is not as easy as it sounds,” Reed said. “A formula would have to be determined so that local governments could apply and show that they’ve lost revenue due to COVID-19, and then qualify for that aid.”

As far as re-opening the Western New York economy, Reed said that May 15 is the “realistic date,” but that he and his colleagues will continue to push forward.

“The economic devastation gets worse every day that we are shut down,” Reed said. “There is a solid argument to be made that we can re-open earlier, but I recognize May 15 as the ‘magic date’ drawn in the sand by the governor.”

Reed said that he and his colleagues will need to make sure they have an action plan in place for consumers and businesses before the state can come out of the lockdown.

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During the call, Reed noted that hospitals and medical networks had been receiving guidelines from the state on how to proceed with procedures not related to COVID-19, such as “non-elective” surgeries.

“If the hospitals can re-open, I think it bodes well for us in Western New York to re-open our economy,” Reed said.