When Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) moved to draw the line on sending further coronavirus aid for hard-hit state and local governments on Wednesday, it caused a backlash among Democrats and even some Republicans.
But on Friday, one of the most politically vulnerable members of McConnell’s Senate GOP backed the leader. In a tele-town hall with constituents Friday morning, Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) was asked by a constituent if the Senate would be voting to “bail out poorly-run states that were near-bankrupt” before COVID-19 hit.
“Personally, I don’t think we should, and I don’t think that we can,” responded Tillis. “I’m not so sure taxpayer dollars from North Carolina should go to a state, a county, or a city that, like you said, was in poor economic shape before we even had the virus.”
Though he cautioned he was open to looking at things on a “case-by-case” basis with an eye toward helping law enforcement and first responders, Tillis declared, “I don’t believe that I can support any measure that’s effectively a bailout for poorly-run state and local governments.”
“I’m more or less aligned with Leader McConnell on the issue,” said Tillis.
Of course Tillis is going to do what he wants. Moscow Mitch is fitting the bill to save Tillis’ pathetic ass:
The largest Democratic super PAC focused on the U.S. Senate is reserving nearly $70 million in fall advertising time, offering an early clue as to how the party’s top strategists view the emerging Senate battlefield.The group, Senate Majority PAC, is making outsize investments in North Carolina and Iowa — two races featuring first-term Republican incumbents who have looked increasingly vulnerable in recent months.It is also making relatively modest investments in Colorado and Maine, two states that sit higher on the Democratic target list, indicating confidence in the party’s advantage in those races as well as the fundraising capacity of the candidates themselves.And while the group is making a major reservation in Arizona, where Democrats are keen to beat Republican Sen. Martha McSally a second time in two years, they are placing no early reservation in Alabama — where Sen. Doug Jones is widely viewed as the nation’s most vulnerable Democratic senator.
J.B. Poersch, Senate Majority PAC’s president, said in an interview that he has been encouraged not only by a more favorable Senate landscape than in 2018, when Democrats had to defend seats in 10 states that President Trump won, but also by his party’s persistent advantage in data gathered in key states.“You’ve already gone through a cycle with the Mueller report, an impeachment acquittal in the Senate, [Bernie Sanders] may be the nominee, [Joe Biden] looking like he may be the nominee, and now what’s happening in the world with coronavirus and a rattling economy,” he said. “And yet, Democrats have held leads in several states and Senate races and consistently performed well. It’s not been a roller-coaster ride.”
The group’s total reservation of $69.2 million slightly exceeds the $67.1 million initial reservation announced last week by its Republican counterpart, the Senate Leadership Fund.
Both groups reserved time in Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Maine and North Carolina; the Republican group also reserved $10.8 million in Kentucky, where Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is seeking a seventh term.“Protecting our Republican Senate majority has become synonymous with ensuring a firewall against the Democrats’ far-left ambitions,” Steven Law, SLF president, said in a statement, adding that the initial spending figure “demonstrates we intend to hold the line.”
Republican senators facing difficult races were not only all outraised by Democrats, they were also overwhelmed.In Maine, for example, Senator Susan Collins brought in $2.4 million while her little-known rival, the House speaker Sara Gideon, raised more than $7 million. Even more concerning to Republicans is the lesser-known Thom Tillis of North Carolina. Republican officials are especially irritated at Mr. Tillis because he has little small-dollar support and raised only $2.1 million, which was more than doubled by his Democratic opponent.
“These Senate first-quarter fund-raising numbers are a serious wake-up call for the G.O.P.,” said Scott Reed, the top political strategist at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
The Republican Senate woes come as anger toward Mr. Trump is rising from some of the party’s most influential figures on Capitol Hill.
Tillis, who along with all but one other Republican senator was named to an economic task force for reopening the country’s economy, has supported the four coronavirus aid packages that have passed the Senate, including a replenishing this week of billions for loans and grants to small businesses to keep workers on their payroll.
He accused Democratic congressional leaders of playing “partisan political games resulting in extra unnecessary hardship and uncertainty for small business owners across the state and country.”
The program ran out of its original $350 billion allotment on April 16. The Senate approved another $310 billion for the program on Tuesday, and the House passed it Thursday.
Democrats held up the package to get additional funding for testing, hospitals and small businesses added. Cunningham, who wants more oversight of the federal spending, applauded the new funding and said additional money is needed for municipalities, who are struggling with financial hardships and may be forced to cut back on critical services.
“I do think Congress needs to act,” Cunningham said Tuesday before Senate passage.
Cunningham, a former state senator and Army prosecutor, has been critical of parts of the administration’s response, including asking for an investigation into the shipment of personal protective equipment overseas when the U.S. has faced shortages.
“We knew we were facing a crisis,” Cunningham said. “You look all the way back to the weeks after the senators were being given briefings about the risks. … We were shipping PPE out of our country at a time when we needed it.”
Cunningham cited the State Department’s help in shipping almost 18 tons of PPE to China in early February, after senators received a briefing on the virus on Feb. 5. The supplies were donated by charitable organizations, including North Carolina-based Samaritan’s Purse.
“It isn’t about seizing the supplies. It’s about a coordinated national response. The message needs to be sent about where we need to be preparing. The national stockpiles were not ready for what many of the epidemiologists were preparing.” Cunningham said. “The first role in a crisis is to send signals to the marketplace where need is great.”
Cunningham pointed to reports that the Trump administration called Thailand asking for help with supplies only to find out that the U.S. had just shipped supplies to it. And a recent report from WBTV about the Defense Logistics Agency selling ventilators and face masks.
Let’s keep up the momentum for Cunningham’s campaign and get rid of Tillis. Click here to donate and get involved with Cunningham’s campaign.