Congressman Peter King tells Cheddar exclusively that he plans to vote in favor of the $3 trillion coronavirus relief bill introduced by Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi earlier this week because it's the only way to get funding for local jurisdictions.
While admitting that the Pelosi-led "Phase 4" package is far from perfect, the Long Island Republican told Cheddar on Thursday that the bill's priority of shoring up state and local government support is his top consideration.
In a series of text messages, Rep. King said "[There's] a lot in there I disagree with but it's essential to get State and Local funding on the table and this is the only vehicle to do it."
The longtime GOP House representative has previously criticized Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for suggesting that states go bankrupt rather than receive additional federal funding to help with the COVID-19 response. The Kentucky Republican told The Hugh Hewitt Show at the end of April, "I would certainly be in favor of allowing states to use the bankruptcy route. It saves some cities. And there's no good reason for it not to be available."
King responded over Twitter at the time, writing, "McConnell's dismissive remark… is shameful and indefensible." King continued his criticism Thursday to Cheddar while announcing his intention to vote in favor of the Pelosi-propelled relief bill by saying, "This is McConnell's fault. By refusing to bring up state and local aid, he gave Pelosi the upper hand."
The New York congressman added that he was unsure how many other Republicans in his caucus might also vote in favor of the bill Friday. He said in a follow-up text about the 1,800-page Pelosi bill, "Most of the extraneous items can be stricken in the Senate."
King has been involved with several efforts along with Democrats in the New York delegation to provide coronavirus relief; his office is working closely with New York City Democratic Rep. Carolyn Maloney, Chairwoman of the House Oversight Committee, on a number of bipartisan solutions including $25 billion to provide aid to the beleaguered United States Postal Service.
In a separate call with reporters Thursday, King, Maloney, and a third New Yorker, Democrat Rep. Jerry Nadler, introduced new legislation aimed at helping COVID-19 first responders in the years after the pandemic, modeling the effort after their bipartisan 2019 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund bill. When asked how he hopes to convince hesitant GOP-colleagues to back high-spending proposals, King responded, "No matter what the cost is, we need to pay it."