Non-profit

United States Conference of Mayors

Website:

www.usmayors.org/

Location:

WASHINGTON, DC

Tax ID:

53-0196642

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(3)

Formation:

1933

President:

Bryan K. Barnett

Type:

Municipal advocacy group

United States Conference of Mayors (USCM) is a quasi-non-governmental organization which represents the interests of mid-to-large U.S. cities. Since its creation in 1933, the USCM has lobbied for more subsidies from the federal government to municipal governments. The organization aggressively pushed for extra funding in 2020 to help cities combat pandemic COVID-19.

Though the USCM engages in lobbying, since its membership consists of government personnel, it is exempt from standard lobbying disclosure requirements. As a result, the USCM’s lobbying expenditure is unknown. Additionally, many individual mayors and their associates engage in lobbying under the umbrella of the USCM to avoid public disclosure. [1]

Though the USCM is officially a non-partisan organization with Democratic and Republican membership, it tends to advocate for left-of-center policy goals.

The USCM is a part of the “Big Seven,” an unofficial group of organizations that represent state and local governments, including the Council of State Governments, the National Governors Association, the National Conference of State Legislators, National League of Cities, National Association of Counties, and International City/County Management Association.

History

In 1932, during the depths of the Great Depression, a group of mayors convened an informal meeting to lobby President Herbert Hoover and Congress to grant bailouts to major cities. The eight mayors were successful in encouraging the passage of legislation to create a $300 million federal assistance program for cities, the first in US history. Shortly after the inauguration of President Franklin Roosevelt in 1933, the gathering signed a formal charter to form the United States Conference of Mayors under the leadership Mayor Frank Murphy (D-Detroit). [2]

In 1972, USCM president Henry Maier (D-Milwaukee) effectively lobbied for a considerable expansion of annual federal funding for cities under President Richard Nixon. In the 1970s and 1980s, against the USCM’s efforts, President Jimmy Carter would cap subsidies and President Ronald Reagan would eliminate all discretionary payments besides community development block grants (CDBGs). [3]

In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, the USCM led calls for more federal support for municipal budgets as many cities faced insolvency. [4]

Structure

As of May 2020, the United States Conference of Mayors has over 1,400 members consisting of mayors and chief elected officials from cities with a population of at least 30,000. [5] All members are invited to an annual national conference and numerous smaller conferences throughout the year. The conferences are divided into committees at which policy recommendations are debated and formally adopted by the organization. These recommendations are then issued to every member of Congress and the president. [6]

As of May 2020, all meetings are indefinitely delayed due to COVID-19. [7]

Policy Goals

COVID-19

The United States Conference of Mayors has endorsed stimulus bills but has urged the federal government to disburse funds directly to municipal governments to combat COVID-19 and maintain financial solvency. On March 20, 300 mayors signed a letter to Congress asking for $250 billion in immediate relief. [8]

Infrastructure

The USCM supports federal funding of infrastructure projects. Its current recommendation is for the federal government to spend $732 billion on roads, airports, harbors, canals, energy, and maintenance programs, plus an additional $30 billion in tax credits. [9]

Immigration

The USCM supports liberal immigration policies. In 2017, the USCM urged President Donald Trump and Congress to continue to authorize the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program which permits illegal immigrants who came to the US as children to stay as long as they renew their work permits. [10]

Healthcare

The USCM supports single-payer government run health insurance. The organization first formally endorsed the position in 2008. [11] The USCM opposed the passage of President Trump’s 2017 American Health Care Act which would have scaled back some aspects of President Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. [12]

Gun Control

The USCM supports increased gun control. It has endorsed mandatory background checks on firearm purchases, gun tracking, and the prohibition of secondary-market gun sales. [13]

Civil Asset Forfeiture

The USCM supports some civil asset forfeiture reform. The USCM cosigned an amicus brief written by the State and Local Legal Center to request a reevaluation by the Supreme Court on Luis vs. United States, which prohibited accused criminals from using any assets seized by civil asset forfeiture for their defense. In 2016, the Supreme Court partially overturned Luis and permitted accused criminals to use assets seized by civil forfeiture if they are “untainted” by the alleged criminal activity. [14]

Opportunity Zones

The USCM supports the establishment of “opportunity zones,” designated sections of cities which gain federal tax relief to incentivize economic development and investment. As of March 2020, the US Department of the Treasury has certified over 8,700 opportunity zones across the country. [15]

Controversies

Illegal Election Polling

In 1995, the US Conference of Mayors was reprimanded by the New Jersey Supreme Court for holding a presidential straw poll in Newark, NJ. The poll violated a New Jersey law prohibiting municipal workers from polling outside of their jurisdictions. [16]

Clinton Administration HUD Investigations

In 1998, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) under President Bill Clinton launched an investigation into municipal waste and corruption that targeted three cities with African-American mayors: Baltimore, New Orleans, and San Francisco. The mayors lodged complaints against the investigation at the annual meeting of the US Conference of Mayors and accused HUD of racism. [17]

Under pressure from the USCM, then-chairman of the Congressional Housing Committee, Representative Jerry Lewis (R-CA), declared the investigation’s targets invalid and called for new selection criteria. President Clinton complied with the demand. [18]

The successful defense of the three mayors was seen as a strike against President Clinton’s authority and a demonstration of the USCM’s influence on the national level. [19]

References

  1. Levinthal, Dave. “States and Municipalities Aggressively Lobby Federal Government for Scarce Aid.” Open Secrets. September 3, 2019. Accessed May 22, 2020. https://www.opensecrets.org/news/2009/09/state-and-municipal-politicos/. ^
  2. “History of the Conference.” United States Conference of Mayors. Accessed May 22, 2020. https://www.usmayors.org/the-conference/about/. ^
  3. Norquist, John O. “The Wealth of Cities: Revitalizing the Center of American Life.” Addison-Wesley. November 7, 2017. Accessed May 22, 2020. https://books.google.com/books/about/The_Wealth_of_Cities.html?id=7khPAAAAMAAJ. ^
  4. Levinthal, Dave. “States and Municipalities Aggressively Lobby Federal Government for Scarce Aid.” Open Secrets. September 3, 2019. Accessed May 22, 2020. https://www.opensecrets.org/news/2009/09/state-and-municipal-politicos/. ^
  5. “Meet the Mayors.” United States Conference of Mayors. Accessed May 22, 2020. https://www.usmayors.org/mayors/meet-the-mayors/. ^
  6. “About the Conference.” United States Conference of Mayors. Accessed May 22, 2020. https://www.usmayors.org/the-conference/about/. ^
  7. “Upcoming Meetings.” United States Conference of Mayors. Accessed May 22, 2020. https://www.usmayors.org/meetings/. ^
  8. “Jobs Education and Workforce.” United States Conference of Mayors. Accessed May 22, 2020. https://www.usmayors.org/category/committees/jobs-education-and-the-workforce/. ^
  9. “Mayor’s Infrastructure Priorities for the 116th Congress.” United States Conference of Mayors. Accessed May 22, 2020. https://www.usmayors.org/issues/infrastructure/. ^
  10. “Letter to President Trump on DACA.” United States Conference of Mayors. Accessed May 22, 2020. https://www.usmayors.org/issues/immigration/. ^
  11. “U.S. Conference of Mayors Backs Single-Payer National Health Insurance.” Physicians for a National Health Program. June 23, 2008. Accessed May 22, 2020. http://www.pnhp.org/news/2008/june/us_conference_of_m.php. ^
  12. “Protecting Healthcare.” United States Conference of Mayors. Accessed May 22, 2020.  https://www.usmayors.org/issues/health-care/. ^
  13. “Let’s Pass Bipartisan Gun Safety Legislation Now.” United States Conference of Mayors. Accessed May 22, 2020.  https://www.usmayors.org/gun-violence/. ^
  14. Soronen, Lisa. “SCOTUS Ruling Requires Relook at State Asset Forfeiture Reform Laws.” National Conference of State Legislators. April 1, 2016. Accessed May 22, 2020. https://www.ncsl.org/blog/2016/04/01/scotus-ruling-requires-relook-at-state-asset-forfeiture-laws.aspx. ^
  15. “opportunity Zones.” United States Conference of Mayors. Accessed May 22, 2020.  https://www.usmayors.org/issues/opportunity-zones/. ^
  16. Pristin, Terry. “New Jersey Daily Briefing; Election Poll Is Called Illegal.” New York Times. September 14, 1995. Accessed May 22, 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/1995/09/14/nyregion/new-jersey-daily-briefing-election-poll-is-called-illegal.html. ^
  17. Janofsky, Michael. “U.S. Retreats on Inquiries into Urban Housing Offices.” June 21, 1998. Accessed May 22, 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/1998/06/21/us/us-retreats-on-inquiries-into-urban-housing-offices.html. ^
  18. Janofsky, Michael. “U.S. Retreats on Inquiries into Urban Housing Offices.” June 21, 1998. Accessed May 22, 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/1998/06/21/us/us-retreats-on-inquiries-into-urban-housing-offices.html. ^
  19. Janofsky, Michael. “U.S. Retreats on Inquiries into Urban Housing Offices.” June 21, 1998. Accessed May 22, 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/1998/06/21/us/us-retreats-on-inquiries-into-urban-housing-offices.html. ^

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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: June - May
  • Tax Exemption Received: January 1, 1941

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    United States Conference of Mayors

    1620 EYE STREET
    WASHINGTON, DC 20006-4005