“There’s no question all governors, regardless of party, would like to have more money; I’m open to discussing that,” McConnell said during an interview with Fox News Radio.
But he’s not interested in aiding the localities on any point beyond countering the CCP virus outbreak.
“The point is, we are not interested in borrowing money from future generations to send it to states to help them with bad decisions they’ve made in the past unrelated to the coronavirus epidemic,” McConnell said on April 30.
The Republican leader faced a storm of criticism from the nation’s governors after panning Democrats’ proposal for more than $500 billion to help cash-strapped local governments cover the sudden extra costs of police, fire, and other front-line workers in the crisis. Last week, he suggested states should be allowed to go bankrupt.
“Bankruptcy is obviously a decision, if it were legal, would be made at the state level. I don’t think many states would choose that option,” he responded to the criticism.
While saying he’s willing to consider new funds, McConnell insisted that the next potential rescue package must also include funding for health care workers and facilities.
He pointed out that any additional assistance provided to states and local governments must come with funding for the doctors, nurses, hospitals, and the businesses that will be reopening.
Top lawmakers from the Democrat side supported the funding for states and local governments.
House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said on April 24 that a fifth COVID-19 relief bill would soon be ready and called on Republicans to agree to longstanding Democrat demands that the next package must include aid to states and local governments.
“There will not be a bill” without such aid, Pelosi said during a press conference. While she didn’t specify her expectations for the price tag of the next bill, she said it would be “expensive.”
McConnell also repeated the need for federal liability protections in the next funding package.
He said he’s “concerned about an epidemic of lawsuits that are going to be brought by the plaintiffs all over America in the wake of this pandemic,” and he added, “If we do another rescue package, and we may, we need to take our time and do it right, and it needs to include these liability protections so that all of these brave workers and brave businesses that will be reopening are not subjected to this second epidemic of litigation.”
Tom Ozimek and the Associated Press contributed to the report.