Democrats tried to stuff relief package with ‘wish list’ of unrelated demands
Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) managed to push $25 million in taxpayer money for the Kennedy Arts Center into the emergency coronavirus stimulus package that finally passed in the Senate just before midnight Wednesday.
The Senate passed the massive $2 trillion compromise package by a vote of 96-0, ending days of deadlock and sending the bill to the House of Representatives.
Speaker Pelosi said the House will soon take up the historic measure to bring relief to American families, individuals, small businesses, and larger corporations “with strong bipartisan support.”
The 880-page emergency legislation is the largest economic relief bill in U.S. history.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) appeared somber and exhausted as he announced the vote while releasing senators until April 20.
“96-0 in the United States Senate,” President Donald Trump wrote on Twitter. “Congratulations AMERICA!”
The Senate version of the bill, to help a nation coping with unprecedented turmoil due to the coronavirus pandemic, includes $25 million to renovate the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.
The renovation is part of a massive infusion of taxpayer cash into arts funding, according to Western Journal.
The House bill crafted by Pelosi initially sought $35 million for the center.
The funding would provide “deep cleaning, increased teleworking capabilities, and operating and administrative expenses to ensure the Center will resume normal operations immediately upon reopening,” according to a summary of the bill.
The money for the Kennedy Center compares favorably with that allocated to the Armed Forces Retirement Homes in Washington, D.C., and Gulfport, Mississippi, which will receive $2.8 million for “increased healthcare, security, and food services personnel expenses, as well as necessary supplies and equipment.”
Many on social media thought the Kennedy Center funding was wrong.
No congressional pay raises
No funding PBS & NPR
NO KENNEDY CENTER BAILOUT
You let this pork go through and this constituent will make sure this is your last term in office.
— Red Hatty (@RedHatty_Social) March 25, 2020
.@TinaSmithMN is gambling with your future.
She is forsaking the doctors & nurses on the front lines, while creating economic panic & keeping money out of workers’ hands.
All because she’d rather exploit this crisis to support Dem pet projects like funding the Kennedy Center! https://t.co/nuEhoqlj2I
— Jason Lewis (@LewisForMN) March 24, 2020
Was that the 25 million of House of Rep monies or the JFK arts 25 million, or the 75 million endowment for the arts, or the multiple millions to NPR and PBS?
— Mike (@michaeljashmore) March 25, 2020
It’s all in there.
$25M House salary raises.
$75M for PBS & NPR.
$1M for the Senate Sergeant at Arms.
$150M National Endowment for the Arts
Everybody that kept complaining about a “slush fund.” That’s EXACTLY what this is . . . one GIANT government slush fund.
— Shane Clark (@A_ShaneClark) March 25, 2020
The Kennedy Center was not the only arts item to be funded in a bill aimed at relief for taxpayers and businesses.
The National Endowment for the Arts will pocket $75 million for “grants, including funding to state arts agencies and other partners in an effort to help local, state, and regional communities provide continued access to cultural organizations and institutions of learning.”
Another $75 million will go to the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Those numbers are down from the original House bill that sought $300 million each for the two endowments, Fox News reported.
For some, the total was still too high.
If you’re a small business, you have to take out a loan. But if you’re a National Endowment for the Arts recipient, you get $75 million worth of GRANTS. pic.twitter.com/6CO9Sm8AM4
— Rachel Bovard (@rachelbovard) March 25, 2020
The $150 million the two groups will split tops the $100 million set aside for medical emergency management for veterans.
The funding supports “the Veterans Health Administration’s 24-hour emergency management coordination, including overtime, travel, transportation of materials, and training.”
Other winners in the Senate bill include the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which would receive $75 million for “stabilization grants to maintain programming services and to preserve small and rural public telecommunication stations.”
That far outstrips the funding for the Distance Learning, Telemedicine and Broadband Program, which will get $25 million “for the DLT grant program, which supports rural communities’ access to telecommunications-enabled information, audio, and video equipment, as well as related advanced technologies for students, teachers, and medical professionals.”