President Donald Trump on Monday questioned whether the federal government should provide financial assistance to "poorly run" states led by Democrats, again framing the U.S. response to the coronavirus outbreak in partisan terms.
Mr. Trump appeared to align himself with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has said Congress shouldn't debate relief to cash-strapped states until legislators reconvene in May. The Kentucky Republican has suggested states with large pension obligations under union contracts should be forced into bankruptcy instead of receiving federal aid.
"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 said in his Twitter post. "I am open to discussing anything, but just asking?
Many Democrats and some Republicans have criticized Mr. McConnell's bankruptcy proposal, arguing such a move would have far-reaching and disastrous financial consequences for the country. Democrats say federal aid for states and local governments must be part of the next round of coronavirus-related stimulus.
U.S. Rep. Peter King, a Republican from New York, called Mr. McConnell the "Marie Antoinette of the Senate" for his seeming indifference to the plight of local governments, including in his home state.
Mr. McConnell's hometown of Louisville faces a massive budget deficit as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, which has put a quarter of Kentuckians out of work.
Kevin Hassett, a senior economic adviser to the president, questioned the wisdom of letting states go bankrupt in an interview on ABC News on Sunday. "The state going bankrupt is something that's not really been anticipated by the founders," Mr. Hassett said. "And so I'm not sure exactly — I didn't see the clip from Senator McConnell but I'm not sure exactly what he was talking about."