Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is reportedly drafting a multi-trillion dollar coronavirus aid package that includes a $750 billion bailout for states and municipalities affected by the novel coronavirus — and Republicans are not being asked to consult.
The aid package, which would be the fourth coronavirus aid package issued in just under three months — only weeks after the $2.2 trillion CARES Act — is focused on providing what Democrats believe are “much needed” funds to states and cities laboring under massive debt, according to the Wall Street Journal, but Republicans caution that federal legislators might be trying to bail out their suffering state colleagues, many of whom are trying to erase debt that long predates the coronavirus pandemic.
Republicans, led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), say they will not consider yet another massive spending bill until they can be sure the now-shaky American economy won’t suffer more damage as a result.
But Pelosi does not appear to be taking Republican advice into consideration, and Republican lawmakers say they have yet to be consulted, let alone invited to collaborate, on Pelosi’s gargantuan bill.
“Bipartisan meetings, which have driven previous aid bills toward passage, are on pause,” the WSJ says. “Larry Kudlow, a top economic adviser to Mr. Trump, said Friday that formal negotiations over the next coronavirus relief package wouldn’t resume until late May or early June.”
“We’ve really not been invited into those discussions yet,” one Republican legislator admitted to the outlet.
That could be because Pelosi is looking to keep the true contents of the bill under wraps until she and others are ready to unveil it themselves. Last week, Pelosi phoned Congressional leaders to ask them to submit a laundry list of aid requests, telling them to “think big,” and admitting that the bill would be a “wish list” of Democratic policy initiatives, in order to give the party a better position from which to negotiate.
Now, the WSJ reveals, Pelosi intends to put state bailouts front and center, handing them three quarters of a trillion dollars, even though Republicans have said they will not support bailing out any state or local government whose debt predates COVID-19.
Democratic governors are begging for the relief. New York’s Andrew Cuomo said he’d ask Congress personally for a bailout, even though his state’s debt problem stems from high Medicaid costs and population loss; millions of taxpayers have fled New York for states with a lower tax burden.
In Illinois, the grab is even bigger.
“llinois Senate President Don Harmon last week sent a plea for a $41.6 billion federal bailout to his state’s Democratic Congressional caucus,” the WSJ reported earlier this month. “He wants $15 billion in no-strings-attached cash; $6 billion for the state’s unemployment trust fund; $10 billion for pensions; and $9.6 billion in unrestricted aid for cities including Chicago and its unreformed pensions.”
McConnell has said he’d much prefer states and cities file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy restructuring than rely on American taxpayers to bail them out of long-standing debt problems.
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