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‘This isn’t a red or blue issue.’ Workers on political battle over state, city funding

Congress is divided over whether the next coronavirus relief bill should fund cities and states reeling from the economic impact of the pandemic. Democrats and some Republicans cite governors and mayors who say aid is needed to stave off additional layoffs, but Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and others call such funding “Blue State Bailouts.” Here’s what some state and municipal workers think.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    As Congress eyes the next coronavirus relief bill, lawmakers are divided over whether it should include funding for cities and states that are reeling from the economic impact of coronavirus.

    Democrats and some Republicans cite governors and mayors who say that aid is needed to stave off thousands of additional layoffs.

    But others, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, say that such funding would amount to blue state bailouts.

    The "NewsHour" spoke with a number of state and municipal workers, many of whom are on the front lines of battling this pandemic.

  • Bob Phillips:

    My name is Bob Phillips, fire chief for Macomb Township, Michigan. We're about 20 miles north of Detroit.

    We're located within Macomb County, which, in Michigan, is one of the hot spots. We have all taken an oath to help the public to do whatever has to be done for those that we don't know. And this pandemic is no different. Our job is to help anyone in their time of need. And we're going to do just that, regardless of what the conditions are.

  • Desha Johnson-Hargrove:

    My name is Desha Johnson-Hargrove, and I am a resident of Detroit, Michigan.

    My husband is Jason Hargrove, the Detroit bus driver who contracted the COVID-19 virus, and it took his life.

    Jason was a dedicated, hardworking transit worker for the Detroit Department of Transportation. And he loved his job. I would hope that Jason's death is not in vain. No deaths should be in vain at this point. Do what you need to do to help protect all of our heroes out here, because that's truly what they are.

  • Jared Rosenberg:

    My name's Jared Rosenberg. I work for the town of Greenburgh Police Department.

    We have been working real hard to just find and get adequate supplies. We're looking at a $7 million shortfall for the whole entire town. So, of course, that's always going to lead to the possibility of job layoffs.

  • Bill Jones:

    My name is Bill Jones. I'm a corrections officer for 30 years. And I live in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

    We have approximately 10 officers that have it. We had 15 inmates that have it. And we have approximately 24 people out on quarantine leave. I know co-workers who have confided with me.

    And they, like, just broke down crying, because they're so stressed out, by just taking it home to their elderly parents or to their children themselves. And they're stressed out about it. And then we come to work, and we don't have enough equipment to — not enough gowns or masks for us.

  • Crissy Myers:

    My name is Crissy Myers. I am employed at the Ebensburg Center in Pennsylvania, which consists of taking care of individuals with intellectual disabilities.

    I have a sister who works at the unemployment office, a brother-in-law that works at the public welfare office. They have twin boys. I am very concerned for all of us, because we're all going to work every day.

  • Shirley Thomas:

    My name is Shirley Thomas. I worked at Duval County Schools for 19 years. And I was a custodian.

    I was called into a meeting, and I was told I would be laid off. And it kind of scared me and worried me for a while, because I didn't know how I was going to make it.

    I have diabetes, as well as high blood pressure, and I had to cancel one of my procedures. I applied for unemployment. It's been almost a month now, and I'm still waiting.

  • Bill Jones:

    I'm worried about the pensions, obviously, as I'm getting older, and I'm ready to retire pretty soon.

  • Bob Phillips:

    I would hope that Congress and those in Washington, D.C., would understand that this isn't a red or a blue issue. It's a pandemic that we're all facing.

  • Jared Rosenberg:

    I voted for Donald Trump in 2016. And if I had an opportunity to speak to him, I would first off say that you're a New Yorker. And New York state hasn't gotten what it needs.

    There's going to be financial restraints on the government. And I think it's real important that there's some type of state and federal aid to help prevent this, because it would be just horrible to think that these are the essential workers that help get you through, and then, when it's all done, there's nothing for them.

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