House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on April 30, 2020 that Democrats are considering about $1 trillion in state and local government needs for the next Wuhan virus spending bill. This number is much larger than the previously discussed figures regarding federal aid to the states.
Pelosi’s remarks have made her butt heads with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell who has made it clear on multiple occasions that he will not go onboard with additional spending unless Congress approves liability protections for businesses and health-care workers. Pelosi has rejected this proposal.
President Donald Trump said he will not sign bills that would increase funding for states and cities unless states and cities change their immigration policies for illegal aliens. Pelosi said during a news conference on April 30 that states have $500 billion in needs, a figure she drew from the National Governors Association. In a similar vein, municipalities and local governments have requested similar figures.
“I talked about almost $1 trillion right there,” Pelosi commented, while adding that “we do have other issues that we want to deal with” in the next spending bill.
The $2 trillion Cares Act that Congress passed at the end of March allocated $150 billion in spending to the states. However, the money was only limited to the Wuhan virus response, which some governors and mayors have criticized for not being sufficient in terms of addressing their budgetary needs.
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy met with Donald Trump last Thursday to discuss spending directed towards his state. Murphy revealed that New Jersey could take a $20 billion to $30 billion hit from the Wuhan virus, thereby putting it in a precarious position. This would require the federal government to step in and increase funding.
“This is to allow us to keep firefighters, teachers, police, [emergency medical services] on the payroll, serving the communities in their hour of need,” Murphy stated. “And that’s something that we feel strongly about. We don’t see it as a bailout. We see this as a partnership.”
Trump responded, “I will say that’s a tough question, because you’re talking about the states, and whether you call it a bailout or a lot of money, and a lot of it’s for years, long before you were there.”
Trump and fellow Republicans have said that they don’t want to bail out states that they believe are fiscally mismanaged. Democrats sustain that the massive fiscal reversals blue states are facing are largely due to the Wuhan virus pandemic and the loss of tax revenue, in addition to payments for unemployment claims and other needs. Many state governments and local officials have announced mass layoffs, which includes public safety workers, as a consequence of the virus.
So far, Congress has passed four bipartisan bills to tackle the issue of the Wuhan virus. Altogether, these bills total out to nearly $3 trillion.
Although there is a legitimate role for the federal government to combat pandemics, it should do so in a manner that protects taxpayers, focuses exclusively on eliminating the virus, and avoids handing outs political favors.
Sadly, D.C. won’t get this memo.