Schumer Warns of Massive Public Sector Layoffs Without Aid to States

April 28, 2020 Updated: April 28, 2020

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) warned that state and local governments will see “massive” layoffs due to the pandemic if Congress doesn’t provide them with federal aid.

“There’s going to be massive layoffs at the state and local level unless we get money to them quickly,” Schumer told MSNBC in an interview on April 28.

Unemployment has surged in the country, with more than 26 million jobs lost in the past five weeks alone, driven by the lockdowns imposed to mitigate the outbreak of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, the novel coronavirus that emerged from Wuhan, China, in 2019.

Visitors to the New York State Department of Labor
Visitors to the New York State Department of Labor are turned away at the door by personnel due to closures over CCP virus concerns in New York on March 18, 2020. (John Minchillo/AP Photo)

The proposal for aid to state and local governments in the next COVID-19 relief package has been the subject of partisan tensions. Broadly, Democrats have been pushing for more such funding, while Republicans, in general, have been tepid on the idea.

In a recent interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said he would support the ability of states facing spiraling deficits amid the pandemic to declare bankruptcy, which current law prohibits.

“I think this whole business of additional assistance for state and local governments needs to be thoroughly evaluated,” McConnell said. “There’s not going to be any desire on the Republican side to bail out state pensions by borrowing money from future generations.”

Epoch Times Photo
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) speaks to media at the Capitol in Washington on Feb. 5, 2020. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)

As Congress considers the fifth emergency relief package to prop up the economy amid the outbreak, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told MSNBC on April 27 that more funding to state, local, and tribal governments must be part of it.

The most recent relief bill, worth $484 billion, included $310 billion for small business loans, $75 billion for hospitals, and $25 billion for COVID-19 testing, but no funds for state and local governments.

The National Governors Association has asked for $500 billion, while U.S. city and county groups seek $250 billion.

After initially taking a hard line against federal aid to state and local governments, McConnell told Politico on April 27 that it’s “highly likely” the next relief bill would include such help, but under the condition that Democrats agree to liability protections to businesses and employees as the economy begins to reopen.

McConnell said in the interview, “At the top of my list is liability protections for the brave people who have been manning the front lines during this and the brave people who will be opening their businesses fearful that they will be sued.”

Schumer, on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on April 28, pushed back against the caveats.

“When McConnell says we’ve got to do A, B, C, D, which is irrelevant to getting the people the money they need, that’s wrong,” he said.

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