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President Donald Trump on Tuesday suggested that state and local bailout money from the federal government could hinge on whether the immigration policies of the individual governments seeking relief align with Trump administration priorities.
From skyrocketing health care expenses to the costs of an unprecedented economic shutdown, the coronavirus has imperiled state and local budgets across the country, prompting calls for federal relief. During an exchange with reporters on Tuesday, the president suggested he would be open to such a plan, but only for states economically impacted by coronavirus, not for problems “related for mismanagement over a long time.”
Alongside Trump’s suggestion that states will have to look at sanctuary city policies, the president said a payroll tax cut would need to be part of any negotiation on a state and local bailout.
“I think there's a big difference with a state that lost money because of covid and a state that's been run very badly for 25 years,” the president said during his meeting with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. “There's a big difference, in my opinion. And you know, we’d have to talk about things like payroll tax cuts. We’d have to talk about things like sanctuary cities, as an example. I think sanctuary cities is something that has to be brought up where people who are criminals are protected, they are protected from prosecution.”
He continued: “I think that has to be done. I think it’s one of the problems that the states have. I don’t even think they know they have a problem, but they have a big problem with the sanctuary situation.”
Some lawmakers have resisted the idea of bailing out state and local governments, some of which were in perilous financial situations even before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) suggested last week that states be allowed to declare bankruptcy, a notion that was widely criticized by Democrats, as well as state and local government officials.
In a bipartisan letter to Congress last week, the National Governors Association emphasized that coronavirus-related financial hardship has struck blue and red states across the country. But the president has used the requests as an opportunity to attack Democrat-led states, insisting on Tuesday that without certain conditions, such bailouts would be unfair to the states “that have done such a good job.”
“Why should the people and taxpayers of America be bailing out poorly run states (like Illinois, as example) and cities, in all cases Democrat run and managed, when most of the other states are not looking for bailout help?” the president wrote on Twitter Monday. “I am open to discussing anything, but just asking?”