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California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Sunday that his state is facing a major budgetary crisis as a “direct result” of the coronavirus pandemic and called on federal lawmakers to provide some sort of relief funding to states across the nation as they struggle with the economic fallout that has accompanied the public health emergency.
Newsom, a Democrat, said that funding from the federal government to states hard-hit by the virus was “not charity” and that lawmakers in Congress have a “moral and ethical obligation” to help Americans across the country.
“We’re not looking for charity,” Newsom said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “It’s social responsibility at a time when people all across the country are facing unprecedented budgetary stress.”
He added: “It’s incumbent of the federal government to support these states.”
Newsom, who recently announced that California had gone from an almost $30 billion surplus earlier this year to a deficit of $54 billion because of the virus, painted a grim picture of what would happen if the federal government did not provide assistance to states.
“I hope they consider next time they want to celebrate heroes and first responders they will be the first ones laid off by cities and counties,” Newsom said of federal lawmakers. “I’m not looking to score cheap political points, but we have an obligation to support cities, states and counties.”
The Democrat-led House late last week passed a massive $3 trillion coronavirus relief bill, an election-year measure designed to brace a U.S. economy in freefall and a health care system struggling to contain a pandemic still pummeling the country.
Friday’s 208-199 vote, with all but one Republican opposed, advances what boils down to a campaign-season display of Democratic economic and health-care priorities. It has no chance of becoming law as written, but will likely spark difficult negotiations with the White House and Senate Republicans. Any product would probably be the last major COVID-19 response bill before November’s presidential and congressional elections.
The enormous Democratic measure would cost more than the prior four coronavirus bills combined. It would deliver almost $1 trillion for state and local governments, another round of $1,200 direct payments to individuals and help for the unemployed, renters and homeowners, college debt holders and the struggling Postal Service.
“Not to act now is not only irresponsible in a humanitarian way, it is irresponsible because it’s only going to cost more,” warned House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. “More in terms of lives, livelihood, cost to the budget, cost to our democracy.”
Republicans mocked the bill as a bloated Democratic wish-list that was dead on arrival in the GOP-led Senate and, for good measure, faced a White House veto threat. Party leaders say they want to assess how $3 trillion approved earlier is working and see if some states’ partial business reopenings would spark an economic revival that would ease the need for more safety net programs.
Republicans are also sorting through internal divisions and awaiting stronger signals from President Trump about what he will support.
“Phase 4 is going to happen,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office, using Washington insider-speak for the measure. “But it’s going to happen in a much better way for the American people.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.