Senator Angus King (I-ME) pummeled Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) over his unyielding obstruction of additional coronavirus economic stimulus programs, telling CNN on Tuesday that McConnell simply does not want to help blue states.
“This business of no help for the states and localities, I don’t get. I mean, what we have here John is a natural disaster,” said King, referring to the coronavirus. “It’s a biological hurricane if you will, and it’s striking some states more seriously than others, although I just looked last night, there’s something like 25 Republican-dominated states, red states, that are in serious financial difficulty, both in their localities and in their states. So it’s not just a blue state problem.”
The coronavirus is exploding exponentially across all 50 states. There are nearly 14 million known COVID-19 infections in the United States and the death toll is approaching 280,000. That grim figure could double by the early spring of 2021.
King said that what “really bothers” him is that he “voted on 10 or 12 or 15 or I don’t want know how many natural disaster bills for various parts of the country, and it never occurred to me to ask, well, is this a blue state or a red state that’s going to get this money? If Florida gets hit by a hurricane, we give them some help. And we’re one country and that’s really what this is all about. And somehow at the beginning of this, Senator McConnell got into his head – he used the term ‘blue state bailout,’ and it’s simply trying to help states and localities that are struggling to keep, for example, first responders on the payroll. Otherwise, states can’t borrow like the federal government and they’ll have to either raise taxes or cut expenditures, which means laying people off. And that’s just not a practical alternative.”
McConnell, King explained, is standing in his own way.
“I really wish the majority leader would take a broader view of this and realize, this is really important. And what we’re proposing in this framework is less than half of what the National Governor’s Association said we would really need, and half of what the president said he would accept months ago,” said King.
Berman then chimed in, asking King if President-Elect Joe Biden’s confidence about being able to negotiate with McConnell offers any reassurance.
“Joe Biden did an interview with Thomas Friedman overnight and talked about Mitch McConnell going forward. This is what Biden said. He said, ‘I think there are trade-offs, that not all compromise is walking away from principle. Biden added, ‘He knows me, I know him. I don’t ask him to embarrass himself to make a deal.’ So President-elect Biden is holding out hope to be able to work with Mitch McConnell. How much hope realistically do you have that that will be successful?” Berman asked.
King said that only if McConnell “gets enough members of the Republican caucus” to strike a deal with Democrats will a bigger relief package emerge. King said that he has some cautious optimism.
“And by the way,” King continued, “we had a number come forward yesterday saying, ‘We think this is a good plan, we would like to be involved.’ So if there’s sort of a growing momentum there, you know, he’s going to work with his caucus and I hope that he understands that this is really something important for the country and that the issue of assistance for state and localities.”
King added that the most severe economic pain is still weeks away in the hardest-hit states, most of which are run by Republicans.
“Look, they’re really hurting, and many of them, ironically, there’s a lag here where states that are just going into the real crisis mode will see the fiscal impact in a month or two,” said King. “They may think they’re okay now, but then they’ll find out their revenues are collapsing. This should be an essential part of this. It was a hard-fought in our group.”
Watch below, courtesy of Crooks and Liars:
Forty-nine days until the inauguration.
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Brandon is a political writer for the Hill Reporter specializing in current events, breaking news, and scientific discovery. Brandon holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Indiana University. He lives in New York City.