WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) – The Republican divide in the U.S. Senate continues over providing coronavirus relief for state and local governments. One Republican senator has introduced a bill that President Donald Trump is entertaining, but one of Florida’s senators keeps blocking a vote on it.
Louisiana’s former treasurer – Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) – is pushing the Senate to act on his latest bill. It would allow state and local governments to use the $150 billion Congress has already approved for coronavirus response for general operating expenses.
“Let my people vote!” Kennedy said on the Senate floor. “If you don’t like it, you can chew it up, spit it out and step on it and vote no in front of God and country. But if you like it, you can vote for it.”
President Trump is reportedly interested in the plan. But Florida’s former governor – Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) – has repeatedly blocked Kennedy’s efforts.
“We are bailing out liberal politicians who cannot live within their means, and now we are asking Floridians to pay for the incompetency of governors like Andrew Cuomo,” Scott said.
Kennedy says the bill prohibits officials from diverting the money to shore up pension funds. But Scott isn’t buying it.
“Regardless of whether we’re removing the existing guardrails or talking about completely new funding, both actions would result in a blank check bailout for states,” the Florida senator said.
Other senators have proposed an extra $500 billion for state and local governments while House Democrats – like California Congressman Mike Levin – are pushing for an extra trillion.
“Republican governors, Democratic governors, the league of cities, the county executives, the state executives all agree that this is really necessary,” Rep. Levin said.
Kennedy says the House plan has no chance of passing the Senate, but his bill may be able to pass both chambers.
“It’ll make a difference if the president supports it,” Kennedy said.