State Watch

State Republican AGs sue Biden administration over relief bill

A group of 13 Republican state attorneys general sued the Biden administration on Wednesday, arguing a provision in the $1.9 trillion relief bill signed earlier this month is unconstitutional.

The lawsuit filed in federal district court in Alabama is challenging a component of the American Rescue Plan Act that would prohibit states from using billions of dollars in federal aid to offset any tax cuts, calling it “one of the most egregious power grabs by the federal government in the history of the United States.”

“Never before has the federal government attempted such a complete takeover of state finances,” West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said in a statement. “The Constitution envisions co-sovereign states, not a federal government that forces state legislatures to forfeit one of their core constitutional functions in exchange for a large check equal to approximately 25 percent of their annual respective general budgets.”

Morrisey was joined by his counterparts in Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota and Utah.

The move comes two weeks after a similar suit was filed by Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost (R).

The Treasury Department, which was named as a defendant in both lawsuits, did not immediately respond when asked for comment on Wednesday.

But a Treasury spokesperson previously defended the tax mandate in response to a letter from a group of Republican state attorneys general expressing concern over the provision earlier this month.

“The law does not say that states cannot cut taxes at all, and it does not say that if a state cut taxes, it must pay back all of the federal funding it received,” the spokesperson said in a statement at the time. “It simply instructed them not to use that money to offset net revenues lost if the state chooses to cut taxes. So if a state does cut taxes without replacing that revenue in some other way, then the state must pay back to the federal government pandemic relief funds up to the amount of the lost revenue.”

Tags Alabama American Rescue Plan Constitution Coronavirus COVID-19 relief federal court Lawsuit Ohio Pandemic state attorneys general Treasury Department West Virginia

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