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Exclusive: Democratic Senate campaign arm hits McConnell over bankruptcy comments in new ad

Exclusive: Democratic Senate campaign arm hits McConnell over bankruptcy comments in new ad
© Greg Nash

The Democrats’ Senate campaign arm is launching a new digital ad hitting Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDemocrats near pressure point on nixing filibuster  We need a voting rights workaround Biden takes victory lap after Senate passes coronavirus relief package MORE (R-Ky.) over his suggestion that states file for bankruptcy rather than seek more federal funds amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The four-figure ad buy from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), shared first with The Hill, will begin running on Facebook on Monday. 

“Just before reports broke that 26 MILLION Americans have filed for unemployment — Mitch McConnell said he would rather let states go ‘the bankruptcy route’ rather than working across the aisle to provide desperately needed resources for local police, fire fighters, teachers, and schools during this public health crisis,” the ad reads. “Mitch McConnell’s comments should be CONDEMNED!”

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Congress has already approved nearly $3 trillion to combat the coronavirus outbreak and its resulting economic fallout. But Democrats have vowed to give more aid to states and local governments in the next relief bill. 

But McConnell raised alarm bells last week when he suggested that it may be better for states to declare bankruptcy than to give them more federal money to help them amid the coronavirus crisis. 

“I would certainly be in favor of allowing states to use the bankruptcy route,” he told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt on Wednesday.

“My guess is their first choice would be for the federal government to borrow money from future generations to send it down to them now so they don’t have to do that. That’s not something I’m going to be in favor of,” he added.  

The top Senate Republican got some support from the White House on Monday, when President TrumpDonald TrumpUS, South Korea reach agreement on cost-sharing for troops Graham: Trump can make GOP bigger, stronger, or he 'could destroy it' Biden nominates female generals whose promotions were reportedly delayed under Trump MORE questioned in a tweet why the federal government should bail out “poorly run states (like Illinois, as example) and cities” — parts of the country that he said were run by Democrats.

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There are still legal questions concerning whether states are even allowed to declare bankruptcy, and the idea has drawn the ire of Democrats and governors from some of the states hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

The DSCC ad buy suggests that the group sees McConnell’s bankruptcy remarks as a weak point for the Kentucky Republican as he prepares for his reelection bid in November. 

He’s facing a challenge from Democrat Amy McGrath, a retired Marine fighter pilot who has proven to be an adept fundraiser since launching her Senate campaign last year. And while election handicappers see the race as a likely win for McConnell, Democrats believe that Kentucky could come into play as they look to expand their offensive Senate map through the summer and fall.

The ad buy is also an effort by the DSCC to put pressure on other Republican Senate incumbents to either buck McConnell on the issue of state bankruptcy or side with him. 

“Republican and Democratic governors agree that Mitch McConnell’s position that states should go bankrupt is irresponsible and dangerous – but Senate Republicans either agree with the Majority Leader or refuse to oppose him," Helen Kalla, a spokesperson for the DSCC, said. "This is another liability for Republican Senate incumbents who've already blocked the aid state and local officials on the front lines of this crisis need.”

--Updated at 1:40 p.m.