Michigan governor blasts U.S. Senate leader over state bankruptcy comments

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer on Thursday blasted U.S. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell for his comments suggesting bankruptcy would be a better route for some states rather than federal aid, as money is doled out to help buffer an economy ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic.

“I was really disappointed to see Senator McConnell’s comments about letting the states go bankrupt,” Whitmer said in an interview with MSNBC. “I just think that it’s incredibly irresponsible.”

McConnell, whose party controls the Senate, on Wednesday poured cold water on efforts by Democrats to tap federal coffers to provide assistance to state and local governments.

“I think this whole business of additional assistance for state and local governments needs to be thoroughly evaluated,” he said on Hugh Hewitt’s syndicated conservative talk radio show. “There’s not going to be any desire on the Republican side to bail out state pensions by borrowing money from future generations.”

Later, in an interview with Louisville, Kentucky-based radio station WHAS, McConnell said Congress “may well” approve further aid but that he would want it tightly tied to coronavirus-related costs.

Whitmer, who expressed hope that Democrats and the Trump administration could overcome objections from Republicans in Congress to providing aid, told MSNBC her state was facing a $3 billion hit to its budget this fiscal year and possibly even a bigger impact next year.

“It will undermine everything from public health to education if we don’t get the kind of support we need out of Washington, D.C.,” she said.

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