For months, one of the biggest obstacles to passing a new round of COVID stimulus is the issue of state and local government relief. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) made it a hard line in the sand that he would not let a single penny of what he calls "blue state bailouts" clear the chamber.
But in recent days, several Senate Republicans have suggested they are open to a compromise bill that includes $160 billion in state and local relief. And as Greg Sargent wrote for The Washington Post, one reason might be that their own states are now facing an even worse fiscal crisis than the "blue states" they were mocking as irresponsible.
"It turns out there is some overlap between the Republicans who are moving toward this proposal and the states that are facing fiscal crunches," wrote Sargent. "These crunches are occurring mainly because the pandemic-driven pullback in economic activity results in increasing joblessness and declining consumption, which means less in sales and income tax revenue."
"Among the red (or reddish) states that are now facing steep revenue declines are Alaska, North Dakota, Louisiana, Iowa, Florida and Wyoming, as Patricia Cohen of The New York Times reports. Others include North Carolina," wrote Sargent. "Among the Republican senators now backing the compromise or leaning towards it are Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Kevin Cramer (N.D.), Bill Cassidy (La.), Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst (Iowa), Marco Rubio (Fla.) and Thom Tillis (N.C.)."
In fact, McConnell should have seen this coming, because exactly the same thing happened in the previous round of stimulus, the CARES Act. According to IRS data, 19 of the 25 states with the largest average stimulus payouts went to Republican-voting states — one of which was McConnell's home state of Kentucky.