McConnell: State and Local Aid Should Be Left Out of Near-Term Virus Relief Deal

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, speaks to the media after the Republican's weekly Senate luncheon, Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2020 at the Capitol in Washington.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, speaks to the media after the Republican's weekly Senate luncheon, Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2020 at the Capitol in Washington. Kevin Dietsch/Pool via AP

 

Connecting state and local government leaders

The Senate majority leader recommended passing a package with programs that Democrats and Republicans can agree on, while the Trump administration offered its own proposal.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday said Democratic and Republican lawmakers should set aside discussions about providing states and local governments with more federal aid to help them deal with the fallout from the coronavirus and instead focus on passing a virus relief package before year-end that includes items the two parties can agree on.

McConnell also said he’s willing to leave provisions out of the possible near-term deal that he supports, particularly providing liability shields to businesses and other organizations from coronavirus-related lawsuits. Like the idea of helping states and localities, he acknowledged that proposal is politically contentious.  

“We know the new administration’s going to be asking for another package,” he said. “What I recommend is we set aside liability and set aside state and local and pass those things that we can agree on. Knowing full well we’ll be back at this after the first of the year.”

“We have some very serious questions about the actual need of additional state and local assistance,” McConnell added.

The majority leader also indicated that reaching a deal on coronavirus assistance legislation of some sort before Congress wraps up its work for the year is a must. “Leaving here without a Covid relief package cannot happen,” he said. “We have to get that done.”

Asked by reporters about McConnell's offer, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer countered that there is “bipartisan” support for extending more help to states and local governments, and added that the same isn’t true of legal protections for businesses. "State and local funding is bipartisan unlike the extreme corporate liability proposal Leader McConnell made, which has no Democratic support,” Schumer said, according to Politico

Meanwhile, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement on Tuesday evening that he spoke with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi around 5 p.m. and, on behalf of President Trump, presented a $916 billion proposal with money for state and local governments and "robust liability protections" for businesses, schools and universities.

This all comes on the heels of a bipartisan group of lawmakers last week releasing a $908 billion framework for another round of coronavirus relief that included $160 billion in state, local and tribal aid. That plan also proposed a $45 billion pot of funding for transit, as well as other transportation, including airlines and rail.

Senate Majority Whip John Thune, a Republican from South Dakota, suggested there are a range of programs apart from state and local aid and the liability provisions that have broad support and that could be included in a bill passed before the end of the year—including federal support for getting people vaccinated against the virus, assisting small businesses and extending certain unemployment benefits.

“I think we could get a deal,” said Thune, adding that such a package could be tied to end-of-year spending legislation lawmakers must pass to avoid a government shutdown.

Thune, too, voiced skepticism about the need for the federal government to funnel more money to states and localities. 

“I would argue,” he said, “there are lots of states around the country that are in a pretty good condition, fiscally, right now. Mine would be one of those.” Many Senate Republicans, he added, “have big reservations about borrowing money to basically bail out a few states who maybe because of their own actions are in a bad fiscal situation.”

Coronavirus relief legislation known as the CARES Act that lawmakers approved back in March included a $150 billion fund designed to assist state and local governments, along with territories and tribes. But many state and local leaders have argued that states, cities and counties need more help, and some have also complained that rules for how the earlier funding can be used are too rigid.

McConnell referred to this earlier funding in his remarks on Tuesday. “A lot of members on our side look at the various states that received the $150 billion we did in the CARES Act and wonder if there’s a demonstrable need” for further state and local assistance, he said.

Bill Lucia is a senior reporter for Route Fifty and is based in Olympia, Washington.

FEATURED CASE STUDIES
Powered By The Atlas
Upgrading aging, underfunded water infrastructure in rural county
Mariposa, CA 95338, USA
2021 Budget Plan in Littleton, CO Prioritizes Communication & Reallocation in Response to COVID-19
Littleton, CO, USA
Resident Feedback Guides Sioux Falls to Record-Breaking Economic Growth
Sioux Falls, SD, USA

NEXT STORY: In November, Men Dropped Out of the Workforce at Higher Rates than Women

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.