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California governor says first responders will be 'first ones laid off' without federal government bailout


Economic shutdowns taking their toll

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom told CNN's Jake Tapper on Sunday that if his state doesn't receive federal financial assistance, first responders will be the first government employees to get laid off.

House Democrats passed a $3 trillion relief bill last week, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) said the bill is "dead on arrival" in the Senate. The bill includes $500 billion for state governments and $375 billion for local governments, Axios reported.

Newsom said California was running a $21.5 billion surplus a year ago, but now has a $54.3 billion deficit because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Can you explain what you think will happen to California if the federal government doesn't give you money to help you out?" Tapper asked Newsom.

"I hope they'll consider this; the next time they want to salute and celebrate our heroes, our first responders, our police officers and firefighters, consider the fact that they are the first ones who will be laid off by cities and counties," Newsom responded. "The folks who are out there, the true heroes of this pandemic, are health care workers and nurses. Those county health systems have been ravaged, their budgets have been devastated and depleted, the budget counts depleted since this pandemic. They're the first ones to be laid off. So we've got to square our rhetoric with the reality."

Newsom announced that counties could begin easing lockdown restrictions if they have 25 or fewer cases per 100,000 residents, or no higher than an 8% positive rate among those who are tested for COVID-19. Counties that meet those standards can look to reopen restaurants for sit-down service and allow people to shop in retail stores.

It could be weeks before another coronavirus-related relief bill is passed by Congress, if one passes at all. The Senate has no plans to produce an alternative bill to the Democrats' package before the Memorial Day recess. This week, the Senate will vote on judicial appointments, Politico reported.

"I'd put the chance of another bill right now at way less than 50% for the foreseeable future," Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) said, according to Politico. "I mean, I hear all this talk that, 'Well, we'll get back together and something will get worked out in June.'"

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