GOP governor upset Democrats might give him the COVID relief he begged for

2103

Gov. Larry Hogan now says the relief bill needs to be more 'bipartisan.'

Maryland's Republican Gov. Larry Hogan begged Congress last year to give his state billions in COVID-19 relief funds. Now that congressional Democrats are working to pass a $1.9 trillion relief bill, he is complaining that they aren't being "bipartisan" enough.

Hogan posted a new ad on Monday for No Labels, the "centrist" super PAC he co-chairs. In the one-minute spot, he argues that "Washington needs to pass a COVID-19 relief bill to save lives and livelihoods, but we need both parties at the table offering their best ideas."

"This moment demands humility and bipartisan cooperation — not more take-it-or-leave it or partisan obstructions," he tells viewers, asking them to sign a petition to tell both parties to "work together" on a bipartisan relief bill.

But for most of the past year, congressional Republicans have refused to pass the levels of relief that even he has requested.

Last April, then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced he would oppose Democratic legislation to provide billions in aid to struggling states and localities facing declining revenues and new expenses due to the coronavirus pandemic. Dismissing it as a "blue state bailout" plan, the Kentucky Republican vowed to "pause" any further legislation.

Hogan blasted this at the time, telling Politico that McConnell's framing was "complete nonsense."

"I'm hopeful that we're going to be able to — between the administration and the 55 governors in America, including the territories — we're going to convince Sen. McConnell that maybe he shouldn't let all the states go bankrupt," he suggested, noting that there were "just as many Republicans as Democrats that strongly support" federal relief for state governments.

Though the Democratic-run House of Representatives passed a $3 trillion proposal on May 15, 2020, McConnell refused to bring up any legislation at all for months — a move he defended as necessary to see that "the coronavirus didn't mysteriously disappear."

It was not until December that the GOP-controlled Senate passed any legislation at all, a roughly $900 billion proposal that omitted the proposed state and local aid provisions.

Hogan's state lost out on about $9.5 billion, thanks to McConnell's obstruction.

Now President Joe Biden is proposing a $1.9 trillion emergency relief package that would include about $350 billion in state and local aid. The new Senate Democratic majority is pushing to quickly pass this using the budget reconciliation process — which would allow them to avoid a filibuster by the Republican minority and enact the legislation with a simple majority.

Senate Republicans unanimously oppose these efforts. Instead, a group of 10 Republicans urged a compromise that would be less than a third of what the Biden administration deemed necessary to address the public health and economic crises — and omits the state and local funding.

While Hogan and his No Labels allies are pushing to stop the fast-tracked process for the Biden plan, Democrats say that to ramp up the vaccination process and rescue the struggling economy, immediate action is needed.

"The cost of inaction is high and growing, and the time for decisive action is now," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a joint statement last week. "We are hopeful that Republicans will work in a bipartisan manner to support assistance for their communities, but the American people cannot afford any more delays and the Congress must act to prevent more needless suffering."

In November, Hogan, who framed himself as an opponent of "gridlock, extremism, and dysfunction," wrote an opinion piece urging the reelection of right-wing Georgia GOP Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue in their Jan. 5 runoffs. He reasoned that keeping the Senate in Republican hands would "uphold America's mandate for moderation and compromise," despite McConnell's long record of blocking bipartisan legislation.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.