Trump Floats Sanctuary City Reform as Possible Condition For Relief Funds to States

April 29, 2020 Updated: April 29, 2020

President Donald Trump on Tuesday suggested that federal pandemic relief to states could be conditioned on their sanctuary city policies.

In remarks during an April 28 meeting with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Trump listed a few possible caveats for federal funds to help states fighting COVID-19, the disease caused by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus.

“We’d have to talk about things like payroll tax cuts. We’d have to talk about things like sanctuary cities, as an example,” Trump added.

Trump also said a distinction should be drawn between states with funding shortfalls due to outbreak versus due to poor fiscal management.

“I think there’s a big difference with a state that lost money because of COVID and a state that’s been run very badly for 25 years. There’s a big difference, in my opinion,” he said.

Ron DeSantis
President Donald Trump listens as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis holds up a sign during a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington on April 28, 2020. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)

Trump expanded on the theme at a meeting with business leaders, saying he wanted to include “sanctuary city adjustments” when distributing federal aid.

“The problem with the states is we’re not looking to recover 25 years of bad management and give them the money that they lost. It’s unfair to other states,” Trump said.

“Now if it’s COVID-related, I guess we could talk about it. But we’d want certain things also, including sanctuary city adjustments, because we have so many people in sanctuary cities, which I don’t even think are popular even by radical left folks, because what’s happening is people are being protected that shouldn’t be protected,” he said.

“A lot of bad things are happening with sanctuary cities,” Trump added, possibly referring to issues like reports of city authorities refusing to cooperate with federal immigration authorities or providing services to illegal aliens.

Trump’s remarks came as 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.

The lawmaker also pushed back against conditions for federal aid outlined by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in remarks to Politico on April 27.

McConnell said that it’s “highly likely” the next relief bill would include help to states, but under the condition that Democrats agree to liability protections to businesses and employees as the economy begins to reopen.

“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.

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.

“I think this whole business of additional assistance for state and local governments needs to be thoroughly evaluated,” McConnell said in a recent interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt.

“There’s not going to be any desire on the Republican side to bail out state pensions by borrowing money from future generations,” McConnell added.

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