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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi drew battle lines Friday for the next negotiation for coronavirus stimulus funds, insisting that state and local governments must get federal funds to safeguard the jobs of public employees and first responders.
Pelosi took special aim at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for suggesting in an interview that states should file bankruptcy rather than get “free money” from the federal government.
“To not do something in my view is morally wrong,” Pelosi said of failing to help states and local governments. “It’s medically disastrous. We can’t defeat this pandemic if Mitch McConnell is letting our health heroes get fired. And that’s what’s happening. They’re getting fired.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo also hit back at McConnell Friday for his reluctance to fund states, which have been on the front lines of the coronavirus response. He ripped the bankruptcy idea as dumb and illegal and dared McConnell to pass a law to let states declare bankruptcy.
“I dare you,” Cuomo said to McConnell. “…You want to send a signal to the markets that this nation is in real trouble?”
Pelosi’s comments come the same day President Trump signed a $484 billion coronavirus relief package into law — which marks the fourth overwhelmingly bipartisan bill Congress has successfully sent to the president to fight the pandemic that has killed more than 50,000 Americans and forced another 26 million people into unemployment.
But major sticking points have emerged in the next round of coronavirus stimulus as some Republicans want to put the brakes on more spending. Democratic leadership signaled they’ll fight for money for state and local governments whose tax revenue has dried up during the pandemic as well as money for mail-in voting in the 2020 election to cut down on people crowding at the polls.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill, Friday, April 24, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
But Trump has expressed concern that making it easier to get mail-in ballots would hurt the Republicans’ election chances in November. And McConnell and other Republicans are hesitant to infuse money to states they believe were fiscally mismanaged prior to the coronavirus outbreak.
“Speaking of Mitch, what’s gotten into him?” Pelosi said Friday. “The president is asking people to inject Lysol into their lungs and Mitch is saying that states should go bankrupt.”
The comments show that “Republicans reject science and reject governance,” Pelosi said.
Pelosi’s swipe at Trump comes from his odd remarks at a press conference Thursday following a presentation on how sunlight, humidity and temperature react to coronavirus on surfaces. Trump has taken lots of heat for seemingly suggesting that light and disinfectants could be used to treat coronavirus in humans.
“And then I see the disinfectant where it knocks it out in a minute,” Trump said. “One minute. And is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside or, or almost a cleaning? Because you see it gets on the lungs and it does a tremendous number, so it will be interesting to check that. So that you’re going to have to use medical doctors. But it sounds, it sounds interesting to me. So we’ll see.”
His comments prompted Lysol to issue a statement that under no circumstances the disinfectant should be injected into the body. Trump backed down from comments on Friday saying they were meant “sarcastically.”
Meanwhile, state governors already requested at least $500 billion from the federal government to help them with their budgets, which have been hard hit in the coronavirus response.
Asked about how much states and local governments should get in the next round of funding, Pelosi said “probably” an amount “equivalent to what we’ve done for small businesses.” Small businesses got roughly $660 billion in funds between the last two bills through the popular Paycheck Protection Program.
The House is not slated to return until May and lawmakers are still trying to work out bipartisan plans to develop ways to vote remotely and conduct committee hearings virtually during the pandemic.