New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and other lawmakers took aim at comments from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell about pressing pause on federal money and floating the idea of letting states go bankrupt.
McConnell on Wednesday appeared on The Hugh Hewitt Show to discuss the recent coronavirus relief bill, suggesting that he is "in favor" of letting states go bankrupt from the financial burden of COVID-19 because he and the White House aren't ready to "just send a blank check down to states and local governments to spend any way they choose to."
The comments sparked scathing criticism from both sides of the political aisle.
“Really? This is the time in a moment of crisis unlike any our country has face in at least 100 years to suggest it’s a good thing for states to go bankrupt?" Gov. Murphy said. “Come on, man. That is completely and utterly and irresponsible."
Republican Congressman Pete King (R-NY) also joined in the Democratic governor's criticism of McConnell, calling his bankruptcy comment "shameful and indefensible."
"To say that it is 'free money' to provide funds for cops, firefighters and healthcare workers makes McConnell the Marie Antoinette of the Senate," King said.
Finances in New Jersey, New York and other states hit hard by COVID-19 will take a significant hit from the virus, Murphy, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and other governors have said.
In Cuomo's interview with CNN late Wednesday, the New York governor called what McConnell said "one of the dumbest statements of all time."
“He then says this is a bailout to the blue states, which is a really offensive statement,” Cuomo continued. “No. the coronavirus attacks Republicans and it attacks Democrats. It doesn’t ask someone are you a Republican or are you a Democrat.”
Cuomo once again criticized McConnell's comments during his daily coronavirus briefing on Thursday -- yet again calling his remarks "dumb" and "vicious," while also referring to McConnell as the "Grim Reaper."
He also went on to say that New York puts an exorbitant amount of money into the "federal pot" -- more than it takes out.
"He represents the state of Kentucky, OK? When it comes to fairness, New York state puts much more money into the federal pot than it takes out," Cuomo said. "At the end of the year, we put into that federal pot $116 billion more than we take out. His state, the state of Kentucky, takes out $140 billion more than they put in."
Directing himself at the senate majority leader, Cuomo went on to ask: "Senator McConnell who is getting bailed out here? It's your state that is living on the money that we generate. Your state is getting bailed out. Not my state."
When asked about McConnell's comments, President Donald Trump said he doesn't know what the majority leader said, or how he said it, but touted states that are doing well, citing Indiana and Iowa — states which respectively have less than 700 and 100 COVID-19 deaths compared to tri-state's nearly 22,000. He also refused to address the comments at his evening press conference.
A message seeking a response was left with McConnell's spokesman.