Retiring Rep. Peter King (R-NY) still has time for one last contrarian move. The Long Island lawmaker is planning to side with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on the next COVID-19 relief bill, The Hill reported, as New York battles the economic meltdown inflicted by coronavirus-related lockdowns.
The $3 trillion bill, called the HEROES act, has virtually no other support from Republicans.
GOP lawmaker sides with Dems
Republicans have made no secret of their reluctance to spend additional trillions of dollars on coronavirus relief — but King, whose suburban Long Island district includes some of the areas hardest-hit by the virus nationwide, said that he will hold his nose and vote for the new bill.
The proposal from Democrats calls for $1 trillion to spend on state and local governments alone, as Bloomberg News reports. That funding has been a key flash-point between parties in recent weeks, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has been singled out for his reluctance to dole out “bailouts” for Democratic states like New York, which is the epicenter of the virus, The Hill notes.
McConnell was notably slammed by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) over the funding issue, CNBC reported — and King is no fan of McConnell’s approach, either.
While King rejects some of the more progressive agenda items in the bill, funding for state and local governments — a sticking point for Democrats — is essential for his district and state, King told Fox News this week.
“I can be as much a red state person as anyone. But now we’re talking about survival. And this is no place for politics. There’s a lot in the bill that I disagree with, but Mitch McConnell refuses to bring up aid to state and local governments. New York will absolutely collapse if that aid money is not there,” the Republican said, according to Fox.
Pelosi’s partisan games
With or without support from defectors, the partisan bill is almost certain to fail. Republicans immediately rejected it this week, calling it another unrealistic and expensive “grab bag” made in the image of Pelosi’s progressive agenda. However, Republican leaders have conceded that another bill is likely eventually, as Reuters notes.
It comes after Congress has spent some $3 trillion on various coronavirus bills, including a $2 trillion stimulus package that ranks as the most expensive of all time. The HEROES act, which exceeds even that, was slated for a vote in the House on Friday, according to CBS News.
King announced last year that he was retiring from Congress after decades in the House of Representatives. Over the years, he became known for sometimes controversial positions — including vocal criticism of radical Islam — married to a bipartisan, contrarian streak that saw him break with his party.
Now that Andrew Cuomo screwed up his state’s coronavirus response, New York has come to Washington to ask for a bailout — and Republicans like King are helping to push along a partisan and astronomically expensive spending bill.
Pelosi must be happy with this member of the GOP.