Asa Hutchinson, Arkansas gov: 'Poor precedent' to pass $1.9T relief package on 'partisan vote'


Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson emerged from a meeting with President Biden at the White House Friday to say Mr. Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package is too expensive and that Democrats are erring by pushing forward without Republican support.

“I think it sets a poor precedent for the future to ram that through on a partisan vote,” Mr. Hutchinson said outside of the White House. “I urge bipartisanship.”

Mr. Hutchinson said Mr. Biden is sticking with the $350 billion for states and localities in his plan – an item that many congressional Republicans say is a nonstarter.

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez characterized the meeting as a good bipartisan discussion.

The other governors scheduled to be in the meeting were New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, both Democrats, and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican.

The local leaders scheduled to be in the meeting were Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell, and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, all Democrats.

Mr. Suarez is a Republican. Arlington, Texas Mayor Jeff Williams, also due to be in the meeting, is a Republican, though the office is nonpartisan.

Congressional Democrats are using a fast-track budget tool to press forward on the $1.9 trillion package without Republican support.

Republicans say brightening state budget outlooks are lessening the need for more federal funds for states and localities.

Democrats say there are guardrails in place to make sure that the money is spent on COVID-19-related efforts.

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