Sen. Angus King talked to CNN's John Berman this morning about the difficulty of getting a stimulus bill passed under the reign of Mitch McConnell.
"We could have a bill supported by 99 senators and if the majority leader said, 'I'm not going to bring it up,' it doesn't come up. And there's no mechanism seriously to make that happen," he said.
"So, he's got to listen. And I'm hoping he's going to listen to the members of his caucus saying, 'Look, we need to do something, it's urgent. People are going to be losing benefits. People are going to be losing their places to live. They're going to be evicted. Schools are going to have really serious problems. We've got to do something, and we've put forward a good faith effort to make that happen.' "
"You say, 'I don't know what the majority leader's problem is. His plan that he's laying out is half, if that, of what you're suggesting, doesn't include any state and local government aid at all. If that's the only thing that gets to the floor, is that better than nothing?" Berman asked.
"That's a decision we'll have to make. This business of no help for the states and localities, I don't get. What we have here, John, is a natural disaster. It's a biological hurricane, if you will. And it's striking some states more seriously than others, although I just looked last night, there's something like 25 republican-dominated states, red states, that are in serious financial difficulty, both in their localities and in their states. It's not just a blue state problem," King said.
"But what really bothers me is, you know, I betcha I voted on 10 or 12 or 15 or I don't want know how many natural disaster bills for various parts of the country, and it never occurred to me to ask, well, is this a blue state or a red state that's going to get this money? If Florida gets hit by a hurricane, we give them some help. And we're one country and that's really what this is all about. And somehow at the beginning of this, Senator McConnell got into his head -- he used the term 'blue state bailout.'
"And it's simply trying to help states and localities that are struggling to keep, for example, first responders on the payroll. Otherwise, states can't borrow like the federal government and they'll have to either raise taxes or cut expenditures, which means laying people off. And that's just not a practical alternative. I really wish the majority leader would take a broader view of this and realize, this is really important. And what we're proposing in this framework is less than half of what the National Governor's Association said we would really need, and half of what the president said he would accept months ago.
"Joe Biden did an interview with Thomas Friedman overnight and talked about Mitch McConnell going forward. This is what Biden said. He said, 'I think there are trade-offs, that not all compromise is walking away from principle. Biden added, 'He knows me, I know him. I don't ask him to embarrass himself to make a deal.' So President-elect Biden is holding out hope to be able to work with Mitch McConnell. How much hope realistically do you have that that will be successful?" Berman said.
King said the real questions is what the Republican caucus thinks.
"If he gets enough members of the Republican caucus -- and by the way, we had a number come forward yesterday saying, 'We think this is a good plan, we would like to be involved.' So if there's sort of a growing momentum there, you know, he's going to work with his caucus and I hope that he understands that this is really something important for the country and that the issue of assistance for state and localities, look, they're really hurting. and many of them -- and ironically, there's a lag here where states that are just going into the real crisis mode will see the fiscal impact in a month or two. They may think they're okay now, but then they'll find out their revenues are collapsing. This should be an essential part of this. It was a hard-fought in our group."
Or, when we eliminate all those reasons, we are left with the conclusion that Mitch is doing what he loves best: Salting the earth for a Democratic president. But of course King is not going to admit that just yet.
"We just don't have time to waste time." — Senate Maj. Leader Mitch McConnell on a relief package, which the Senate has stalled for many months. pic.twitter.com/ITQ8R9C8Cp
— The Recount (@therecount) December 1, 2020