Last month, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell asked the federal government for emergency funding to help his state of Kentucky combat the coronavirus.
"As of March 24, 2020, Kentucky has confirmed 124 cases of COVID-19 and 4 fatalities," McConnell and the other members of Kentucky's congressional delegation wrote to Donald Trump.
When the White House approved funding, McConnell thanked Trump for the federal government's aid to Kentucky.
"The additional federal resources this declaration makes available will help communities across Kentucky continue responding to the coronavirus. I'm grateful President Trump quickly answered our bipartisan call to deliver this vital assistance," he said in a statement.
But McConnell doesn't think other states deserve the same assistance.
On Wednesday, McConnell said state and local governments should "use the bankruptcy route" rather than receive further federal funding.
In a radio interview with conservative host Hugh Hewitt, McConnell shot down the Democratic proposal for another legislative package that would include aid to states hit hardest by the coronavirus.
"My guess is their first choice would be for the federal government to borrow money from future generations to send it down to them now so they don't have to do that," he said. "That's not something I'm going to be in favor of."
The same day, his office put out a statement calling such aid "blue state bailouts."
Kentucky, it turns out, is one of the most federally dependent states in the country. It takes far more help from the federal government than any of the blue states hit hardest by coronavirus and in desperate need of aid.
The response to McConnell's hyperpartisan dismissal of any further assistance was swift, even from his fellow Republicans.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said he thinks McConnell "regrets" his statement — or he will in the future. (McConnell has not indicated any such regret thus far.)
"The last thing we need in the middle of an economic crisis is to have states all filing bankruptcy all across America and not able to provide services to people who desperately need them," Hogan added.
Rep. Peter King of New York — the state that's been hit harder than any other thus far, with nearly 20,000 deaths from COVID-19 to date — issued a harsher response on Twitter.
"McConnell's dismissive remark that States devastated by Coronavirus should go bankrupt rather than get the federal assistance they need and deserve is shameful and indefensible," said King.
"To say that it is 'free money' to provide funds for cops, firefighters and healthcare workers makes McConnell the Marie Antoinette of the Senate."
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, also slammed what he called McConnell's "vicious" remarks.
"I mean, if there's ever a time for humanity and decency, now is the time," Cuomo said Thursday during his daily press briefing. "And if there was ever a time to stop your political — obsessive political bias and anger, which is what it's morphed into — just a political anger — now is the time. And you want to politically divide this nation now? With all that's going on? How irresponsible and how reckless."
But such criticism is likely to fall on deaf ears.
Last year, McConnell gave himself the nickname "Grim Reaper," openly vowing to kill bills passed by the Democratic House, no matter how popular they are.
Nearly 400 bills passed by the House have languished in the Senate because McConnell refuses to even hold a vote on them.
Earlier this month, after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi outlined a package that would include $10 billion for health centers and housing programs, McConnell made clear he wasn't interested in any further legislation to help struggling Americans.
"She needs to stand down on the notion that we're going to go along with taking advantage of the crisis to do things that are unrelated to the crisis," McConnell said.
Now it seems that applies to states in need as well — or at least the blue states McConnell doesn't care about.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.
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