Many states were having financial problems before the coronavirus epidemic hit, and now, before talking about bailing them out, it's important to ensure the money they are getting through the CARES Act is properly spent, Rep. Steve Scalise said Thursday.
"We spent trillions of dollars to try to keep our economy held together," the Louisiana Republican said on Fox News' "America's Newsroom," explaining that the coronavirus relief bill included $150 billion in allocations that are starting to arrive in the states.
His comments came after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Wednesday slammed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for trying to hold up extra funding for small businesses over obtaining money for states such as New York, who say it needs federal funding to deal with the aftermath of the virus. He also suggested states file for bankruptcy protection rather than seeking federal dollars to bail themselves out of problems from mismanaging their COVID-19 responses.
"Hundreds of billions of dollars are going to states, not just $150 billion that was in the CARES Act specifically for state and local governments but there is also unemployment money," Scalise said Thursday. "There's money, of course where we passed more money for local businesses."
In fact, he added, 75% of the money in legislation being passed on Thursday for the Paycheck Protection Program, which much be spent on workers, will also save the state money."
Scalise added that New York had "serious" financial problems before the epidemic, and is "getting flushed with cash from the federal government for this crisis."
"We need to make sure that we are not trading off between the safety of our health and the safety of our economy," said Scalise. "You can and must do both but you have to start getting back to work in a safe way over the next few weeks. We are learning more from our medical experts about how to do that which includes social distancing. You are hearing from all the small businesses that say even with money from the federal government they can't hang on for another month or two."
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