AP Photo/Andrew Harni Mitch McConnell
AP Photo/Andrew Harni

‘As Senate Majority Leader, I’m putting Kentucky’s priorities at the center of the national response,’ McConnell said on Sunday.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell boasted on Sunday that, thanks to his coronavirus economic bailout bill, Kentucky has received more than $15 million in funds from the Department of Justice and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But just days ago, he vowed to oppose “Blue State Bailouts” and questioned the value of new federal funding to states and localities.

“As Kentucky continues battling the effects of the coronavirus, I’m proud my CARES Act is providing the vital resources to help communities in need,” McConnell (R-KY) said in his press release on Sunday. “The unprecedented crisis requires a bold response, and these federal funds from the CDC and Justice Department can help keep families healthy and safe during this challenging time.”

“As Senate Majority Leader, I’m putting Kentucky’s priorities at the center of the national response and working to deliver the resources to beat this virus,” he added.

The $15,121,392, McConnell noted, includes “$8.3 million to strengthen testing, containment and treatment as well as to help Kentucky make progress toward safely re-opening the economy” and “$6.8 million to Kentucky to help state and local governments respond the virus’ spread.”

The funds came from Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which McConnell sponsored.

But a few weeks ago, McConnell said he thought it was time to rethink whether federal funding to struggling states and localities is even a good idea.

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“I said yesterday we’re going to push the pause button here, because I think this whole business of additional assistance for state and local governments needs to be thoroughly evaluated,” he told right-wing talk show host Hugh Hewitt on April 22. “There’s not going to be any desire on the Republican side to bail out state pensions by borrowing money from future generations.”

After asking the federal government for emergency “major disaster” aid for Kentucky’s COVID-19 pandemic response in March, McConnell urged other state and local governments to “use the bankruptcy route” in that interview, instead of getting more money from Washington.

Those comments earned McConnell bipartisan criticism.

“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,” Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, responded at the time.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, called the comments “vicious.” He suggested that “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.”

“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 Rep. Peter King (R-NY).

Though McConnell has attempted to frame Democratic-controlled states and cities as reliant on the federal government for money, Kentucky is actually the third-ranking state in the Rockefeller Institute of Government’s study of states that take more than they pay in federal tax.

It receives about $70.8 billion in federal funds while paying only about $30 billion back in taxes.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.