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Connolly, Molinaro Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Improve Intergovernmental Relations

Today, Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA) and Congressman Marc Molinaro (R-NY) introduced the Restore the Partnership Act, a bill aimed at reconstituting and reforming the U.S. Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations (ACIR) to ensure that all levels of government can work together and that state and local governments have a partner in the federal government. By reconstituting and reforming the ACIR, this bill ensures that our federal system of government can continue to function as intended, providing a collaborative approach to addressing challenges faced by our intergovernmental partnership.


“As a former member and Chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, I know firsthand how crucial it is for our local governments to have the cooperation and support of their federal, state, and tribal partners,” said Connolly. “America’s federated system of government relies on collaboration across all levels of government to ensure the reliable administration of public services and the protection of the public welfare. Only with earned trust and open channels of communication can all governments in the United States truly work together to reduce overlap and actually do the business of improving people’s lives.”


“I served as a County Executive,” said Molinaro. “I know the importance of having strong collaboration between federal and local governments to provide quality, essential service. I also know that the federal government often fails to hold up its end of the bargain. Bureaucratic red tape and a one-size-fits-all approach often leave communities like the ones I represent in Upstate New York without a reliable and effective partner. I’m proud to join Congressman Connolly in introducing the Restore the Partnership Act. This bipartisan bill will improve the way federal support is delivered to local communities.”


Established by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1959, the ACIR served as a forum for intergovernmental dialogue and a neutral analytical commission that published reports and guidance on how to create partnerships across different levels of government until its dissolution in 1996. The commission helped create recommendations and legislation related to federal aid simplification and management, unfunded mandates, and federal preemption.


The Restore the Partnership Act would reconstitute and reform the ACIR by making several key reforms to the Commission on Intergovernmental Relations. The bill would add town and tribal representatives to the Commission, expand membership for state legislatures and counties to reach parity with state executive representation, and provide new responsibilities, including examining Supreme Court decisions and their impact on the intergovernmental relationship. The bill also requires Congress to hold hearings to examine the Commission's annual report within 90 days of the report's submission and provides new authorities that ensure the Commission receives written responses from agencies on the recommendations it provides to them. These new provisions generate a new level of accountability to the Commission, placing it on par with the way in which federal agencies currently engage the Government Accountability Office (GAO).


“America’s counties – and our nation – depend on a strong intergovernmental partnership to thrive. The speed and scale of change in today’s world require a greater level of cooperation and partnership than ever before, among all levels of government,” said National Association of Counties Executive Director Matthew Chase. “The bipartisan Restore the Partnership Act is essential to modernize our nation’s intergovernmental system, creating a much-needed vehicle for advancing the priorities of our shared constituents and the nation. We applaud Representatives Connolly and Molinaro for leading the charge on this important bipartisan effort."


“The Restore Our Partnerships Act represents a major step towards strengthening the federal-local government relationship. Over its history, the U.S. Advisory Council on Intergovernmental Relations helped to ensure that the federal government worked with its local level partners. Local leaders from cities, towns and villages across the country are grateful to the co-sponsors for championing this bill,” said Clarence Anthony, CEO and Executive Director, National League of Cities.


“Now more than ever, it is critically important that all levels of government--federal, state and local—come together to work in a cooperative way,” said Tom Cochran, CEO and Executive Director of the U.S. Conference of Mayors and Chair of the Big 7, a group representing the leading state and local organizations. “The ACIR provides an important platform for elected leaders and stands to strengthen our partnership as we work to solve our shared challenges. We thank Representative Connolly and Representative Marc Molinaro for their leadership and urge members to support this bill.”


A letter of support from the Big 7 organizations is available here.


Full text of the legislation is available here.

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