Republican AGs

Slatery sits out GOP AGs’ letter questioning federal stimulus rules for states, cities

State Attorney General Herbert Slatery, right, speaks with Rep. Jerry Sexton (R-Bean Station) on the House floor in Nashville on Feb. 3, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery is sitting out an initiative by Republican colleagues from other states raising concerns about rules attached to a key part of the $1.9 trillion federal economic aid package signed into law last week.

A letter signed by 21 Republican AGs questions Democratic President Joe Biden’s administration for announcing that $350 billion in COVID-19 relief for state, local, and tribal use cannot be used to offset tax cuts. That restriction would represent “the greatest attempted invasion of state sovereignty by Congress in the history of our Republic,” according to the letter sent to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.

A White House official told The Washington Post the stimulus bill sets conditions about how states can use the money, but does not say they can’t cut any taxes. “It simply instructs them not to use that money to offset net revenues lost if the state chooses to cut taxes,” the official said.

Previous rounds of federal stimulus funding passed under former President Donald Trump included provisions barring states from using the money to “backfill” revenues lost during the economic downturn.

Slatery earlier this month was one of 19 attorneys general signing on to a letter urging defeat a bill by congressional Democrats they said would “federalize state elections and impose burdensome costs and regulations on state and local officials.” In December, Slatery joined an amicus brief supporting a Texas lawsuit seeking to overturn the result of the presidential election to sway it in President Donald Trump’s favor.