- - Saturday, April 3, 2021

President Biden’s $1.9 trillion spending bill provides a handsome payoff to the home states of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

This bill spent more money on state governments than on actually crushing COVID-19.

It sent $26 billion from taxpayers across the country to California Gov. Gavin Newsom and $12 billion to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Never mind their states’ history of irresponsible spending and huge debts incurred long before coronavirus. This was a bailout. It was paid for by taxpayers from states that live responsibly within their means.

The governors of New York and California now have political favors to dole out with no strings attached. This is while both are under heavy legal and political pressure.

Mr. Cuomo is under investigation for at least seven cases of sexual misconduct. Mr. Newsom is facing a recall election for his mishandling of the pandemic.

With these investigations underway and a recall election looming, there is no assurance they will spend the money in the public’s interest instead of their own.

To remove any hint of a conflict of interest, they should either send the money back, or resign and let someone else handle the billions of dollars their states have been sent. It is that simple.

Safeguarding taxpayer dollars shouldn’t be a political issue. Democrats made it one when they forced the bailouts through on totally partisan votes.

Sending this additional money to states was not necessary since state tax revenues in 2020 were essentially flat. Most states actually have higher tax revenue today than they did before the pandemic.

Yet Democrats manipulated the formula used to spend this money to reward states that imposed the harshest lockdowns. States with higher unemployment rates received far more money than states that opened back up safely last year.

It is not a coincidence that a majority of states that benefitted the most are run and represented by Democrats. It is certainly no coincidence that New York and California have two of the three highest unemployment rates nationally, and get two of the three fattest bailouts from Washington.

During the worst of the pandemic last year, Mr. Newsom and Mr. Cuomo were the faces of their party’s response to coronavirus. They kept their constituents under draconian lockdowns. They destroyed more than 25,000 small businesses and livelihoods, and still saw some of the worst public health results in America. People in California and New York have paid the price for this failed leadership.

Mr. Cuomo ordered seniors recovering from the coronavirus back into nursing homes, where the disease then spread rapidly and killed widely. When the Justice Department asked questions, Mr. Cuomo published false death numbers. He waited until President Biden was in the White House to reveal that some 15,000 New York seniors had died from coronavirus in nursing homes, nearly 50% more than he had previously admitted.

In recent weeks, we’ve learned even more about Mr. Cuomo. Seven women have accused him of behavior ranging from sexual harassment to sexual assault. Even Mr. Biden has admitted that some of the allegations might lead to criminal charges.

Meanwhile on the West Coast, Mr. Newsom issued some of the strictest lockdown rules in America. Then he repeatedly violated those same rules, including dining indoors with health care lobbyists at one of the most expensive restaurants in America. Even by 2020’s standards, it was an act of breathtaking hypocrisy.

Mr. Newsom fumbled the vaccine rollout so badly that he finally had to privatize the effort.

In total, under Mr. Newsom and Mr. Cuomo, more than 100,000 Americans died of coronavirus.

Both of New York’s senators have now called for Mr. Cuomo to resign. More than 2 million Californians have signed a petition to recall Mr. Newsom.

Mr. Cuomo and Mr. Newsom have shown that they cannot be trusted with our money.

They should either step aside, or send the money back. If they refuse to resign, then American taxpayers deserve a full refund.

• John Barrasso of Wyoming is chairman of the Senate Republican Conference and a member of the Senate Finance Committee.

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