No dime of bailout money should go to state or local governments that continue “to lock down commerce,” Texas Rep. Chip Roy told The Federalist Radio Hour in a far-reaching Friday interview now available in its entirety.
“Frankly, I’ve got to think about [giving money] at all, but if we think it’s appropriate to help them from losing some of their tax base, I sure as hell don’t want money to [state and local governments] who are continuing to lock down commerce,” Roy said. “We need local governments and state governments to get the hell out of the way of the American citizen and give their country back to them. And I’m not interested in any federal bailouts of state and local government, at least until we have free, open commerce, free flowing in the states in question.”
Roy has been a vocal critic of the shortcomings of the Paycheck Protection Program while “holding [his] nose voting for” it, particularly in its failure to address the needs of Main Street restaurants and other similarly sized businesses that have been closed by state and local governments. He has been a vocal proponent of governors letting workers and entrepreneurs get back to their jobs and businesses if their state’s medical conditions allow it.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told radio host Hugh Hewitt he’d “be in favor of allowing states to use the [currently unavailable] bankruptcy route” in a Wednesday interview. “I think this whole business of additional assistance for state and local governments needs to be thoroughly evaluated,” McConnell said. “There’s not going to be any desire on the Republican side to bail out state pensions by borrowing money from future generations.”
“What the Senate majority leader was really doing there,” Roy told The Federalist Radio Hour, “was shooting a shot across the bow, saying, ‘Hey states, don’t think you can juts keep running back to the feds to figure out how to backstop your decision making.’ … But what I do know is a lot of the states — whether they’re as big as New York or small — they’re making decisions about shutdown and lockdown and there are consequences to those decisions and they can’t just come back to Washington and say, ‘Oh by the way, we shut everything down and our economy got decimated and now we don’t have any tax revenue, we cant pay for firefighters and everything else, can you all go borrow us some more freaking money so we can pay off our bills?’ That can’t be how we operate. Federalism is two-way street. I’m a big believer in federalism, big believer in letting states decide.”
“Any one of us who has any understanding of the Constitution and federalism knows that’s not true [that the president has sole control of when states open]. On the flip side, however, since federalism is a two-way street, it is true that there’s a lot of power at play in terms of the dollar flow and states. If they want to come back and get money, then the federal government sure as heck can say, ‘Hold on, reopen your doors, get out of the way of the American people, get out of the way of commerce. Emergency actions are one thing, but clamping down on overall economic activity, that’s a whole other.’”
One target of his Paycheck Protection Program criticism is the rule that 75 percent of a grant must go to payroll and only 25 percent to bills, despite shuttered businesses not having a payroll.
“I would prefer that [Treasury Sec. Steven Mnuchin] be more responsive to the issues that some of us have been raising, for example at the Small Business Administration, the 75-percent-25-percent — that’s a rule that the SBA could fix. We’ve elevated that issue and it doesn’t seem to be something that’s caught his attention to be able to focus on. I wish he were being a little more responsive, frankly, to some of the small business concerns that are out there. I think he’s working hard… in a difficult environment… but I think that we need to be doing more quickly to drive getting our economy restarted, to make sure that the dollars going out the door are not being used to pick winners and losers.”