Gov. Charlie Baker implored federal lawmakers to step up their response to the coronavirus pandemic Tuesday, stressing the need to put partisan politics aside and act with the same urgency local and state governments across the country have to combat COVID-19.
“For the last two days we’ve all been following closely the developments in Washington,” Baker told reporters. “The debate around the economic aid package in the Senate, well, frankly, it’s been appalling. But I can’t say that I’m surprised.”
“Partisan behavior is simply not an option now,” says Baker
His remarks came a day after Senate Democrats blocked a $1.8 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill intended to inject some financial protection to households and businesses amid the economic ramifications of the virus for a second time this week, fueling partisan outrage and tension.
Democrats, among their criticisms, have said the bill should do more to support average Americans.
Baker, a Republican, often stops short of wading into national politics. But the state’s chief executive made clear his disappointment with a lack of action from the federal legislature clear during Tuesday’s press conference.
“I’ve watched and seen governors and mayors, and other elected officials completely shift their focus to the task at hand without the slightest partisan bend, so I know it’s possible, if they choose to, for D.C. to do the same,” Baker said.
“I think we all hope and try to be confident that Congress will get the job done and soon, because this kind of behavior is simply not an option now,” he added. “It may take a little longer than it should, in fact it already has, for Washington to come around, but I’m hopeful and confident that they will and will soon.”
Municipal and state governments look to federal decisions to guide their own actions, Baker said.
Asked whether he had spoken to senators Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren, he said their offices have kept in touch, but not about this topic specifically.
He did, however, have some advice.
“Make a deal,” Baker said. “I mean, remember, the legislation that’s currently in front of the Senate went through a whole series of bipartisan — that means both Republican and Democrat — decision makers over the course of the past two weeks in both the House and the Senate.”
The governor said he even called U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, the 1st District Democrat who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee, to congratulate him on getting a bipartisan bill through the House.
“I think it’s critical that these folks find a way to ‘yes’ and create some clarity and some certainty, not just for state government and local government, but for the people of the country who are waiting to see the federal government lead on this issue,” Baker said.
Get Boston.com’s e-mail alerts:
Sign up and receive coronavirus news and breaking updates, from our newsroom to your inbox.