Pence Says COVID-19 Does Not Give Democrats 'Blank Check' for Bailout

In a television interview, Vice President Mike Pence has reiterated the view of some senior Republicans that any coronavirus relief package should not be used to "bail out" Democrat-led states that have run up "massive deficits."

In May, the Democratic-led House of Representatives passed a $3.4 trillion aid bill which was dismissed by Republicans. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell released the smaller $1 trillion HEALS Act in July and last week rejected Democrat demands for a bailout he believed was intended to save mismanaged Democratic-led states.

Amid deadlock between the Trump administration and congressional Democratic leaders on the terms of the new relief package, Pence also referred to the Democrats' bid to secure $1 trillion for state and local governments.

"The truth is that many states run by Democrats for decades have run up massive deficits," Pence told anchor Lou Dobbs.

The vice president said that for instance, the GOP's proposal for granting $105 billion for schools was "specifically tailored to the actual per student cost of returning to school in a safe and responsible way."

"President Trump has made it clear we are not going to let liberal Democrats and the radical left use the coronavirus pandemic to bail out states that have been running deficits and debt for decades."

"This isn't a blank check for badly run states and especially those badly run states run by liberal democrats for decades," Pence added.

President @realDonaldTrump has made it very clear, the Coronavirus pandemic isn’t a blank check for badly run liberal states.

— Mike Pence (@Mike_Pence) August 10, 2020

It echoes the sentiment of Trump, who last week tweeted that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer were "only interested in bailout money "for poorly run Democrat cities and states."

Amid the stalled talks, Trump signed executive orders on Saturday in a bid to help workers, businesses and local governments. However Democrats have been critical of Trump's move and governors have said the order could strain their budgets.

Furthermore, with the $600-a-week supplement to unemployment benefits coming to an end on July 31, Trump's order for further $400 benefits required states to supplement it by $100, leading some governors to saying it was not affordable.

Kentucky's Democrat Governor Andy Beshear said, according to The New York Times, that the $1.5 billion bill for his state to implement the measure "was not workable in its current form and that "it's something virtually no state can afford."

However, Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas said, "We could do it," although it "would be a readjustment of priorities and take some time," The Times reported.

 Mike Pence
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence is pictured with President Donald Trump in the White House. Pence says the GOP won't agree to COVID-19 relief which he says would be a bail out for Democrat-led states. Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images