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Governors Urge Congress to Avoid Turning Coronavirus Relief Into 'Another Political Football'

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A bipartisan group of governors is calling on Congress to pass another round of coronavirus relief.

“As Congress reconvenes, delivering urgent state fiscal relief must be a top priority,” Gov. Larry Hogan (R-Md.), the chair of the National Governors Association (NGA), and Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) the co-chair of the NGA wrote in a joint statement on Wednesday. 

The statement continued, “Each day that Congress fails to act, states are being forced to make cuts that will devastate the essential services the American people rely on and destroy the economic recovery before it even gets off the ground.

The governors urged Congress to act on the “bipartisan agreement on the need for this assistance” and pass another round of coronavirus relief.

“We cannot afford a partisan process that turns this urgent relief into another political football. This is not a red state and blue state crisis. This is a red white and blue pandemic. The coronavirus is apolitical. It does not attack Democrats or Republicans. It attacks Americans.”

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Hogan and Cuomo also asked that Congress provide $500 billion to help states facing budget shortfalls as a result of shutdown measures aimed at slowing the spread of the virus.

Cuomo has been vociferous in his calls for federal assistance for his state. During a press conference on Tuesday, he said the state needs $61 billion from the federal government to avoid cuts to schools and hospitals.

“You want me to cut hospitals? Hospitals are the nurses, and the doctors who just got us through this and everyone celebrates as heroes. If you don’t fund a state, that’s who you’re cutting in terms of finances,” he said.

On Tuesday, House Democrats’ unveiled a $3 trillion coronavirus relief bill that would provide $1 trillion for local governments.

However, that bill is unlikely to get much further than the House. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) blasted it as a bill that is designed to “deal with aspirations.”

While McConnell has indicated he is not interested in passing new spending legislation right now, he also suggested that states facing budget crises could declare bankruptcy.

He said that he is not “interested in borrowing money from future generations to send down to states to help them with bad decisions they’ve made in the past unrelated to the coronavirus epidemic. “

President Donald Trump also pumped the breaks on providing federal assistance to states. In an interview earlier this month he said he was “in no rush” to do so.

He added, “If they do it, they’re going to have to give us a lot.”

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Cuomo lambasted the idea of states going bankrupt in a tweet, “One of the really dumb ideas of all time just came from Sen. Mitch McConnell.”

He added, “His suggestion to let states go bankrupt makes no sense. He says he doesn’t want a ‘Blue State Bailout.’ 15,000 people died — this is not the time for politics.”

While states are pleading for funds, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) vowed that Congress would pass a bill that gives funding to state and local governments “in a very significant way,” as IJR reported.

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