President Donald Trump summed it up best when speaking of the 5, 593-page COVID relief legislation. He said: “It’s called the COVID relief bill, but it has almost nothing to do with COVID. This bill contains $85.5 million for assistance to Cambodia, $134 million to Burma, $1.3 billion for Egypt and the Egyptian military, which will go out and buy almost exclusively Russian military equipment, $25 million for democracy and gender programs in Pakistan, $505 million to Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama, $40 million for the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., which is not even open for business, $1 billion for the Smithsonian and an additional $154 million for the National Gallery of Art. Likewise, these facilities are essentially not open.”
The proposal also includes $7 million for reef fish management, $25 billion to combat Asian carp and $2.5 million to count the number of amberjack fish in the Gulf of Mexico. It includes a provision to promote the breeding of fish in federal hatcheries, $3 million in poultry production technology, $2 million to research the impact of down trees and $566 million for construction projects at the FBI.
Many Americans have rightfully expressed their anger in being made to wait months for pandemic relief only to be awarded a small check and a plan to export billions of dollars overseas.
We wholeheartedly agree with these Americans and share their anger with the large amounts of money – pork – going to other countries, many of which don’t like us much and aren’t really our allies, instead of keeping that money on U.S. soil and giving it to American citizens.
It’s an outrage that elected officials in our nation’s capital would sign off on a nearly 6,000-page bill that many probably didn’t even read to spend billions of dollars unrelated to COVID relief.
During a pandemic that has claimed more than 300,000 lives, we need to look out for Americans first.
Trump reluctantly signed the COVID relief bill into law after making a strong case against doing so. In a speech last week, the president talked about all of the pork in this legislation. He also called for relief checks of $2,000 rather than the $600 provided in the law he signed.
We agree with Trump’s stance that struggling Americans should be getting $2,000, not $600, that big tech companies need to be reigned in and that a commission should be established to investigate election fraud.
The problem is that the relief bill passed by the House last week and a Trump-supported bill pending in the Senate would go well beyond providing relief checks to struggling Americans.
A family of five with income of up to $350,000 annually would receive checks under this bill.
Trump’s proposal in the Senate is also flawed as it would provide checks to a family of five with an income of up to $266,000 a year.
Both proposals are disgraceful because relief checks should be carefully targeted to the millions of Americans who are struggling as a result of the pandemic, not to the affluent who don’t need it.
It now appears that neither the House bill nor the Trump-supported Senate bill will be passed in the closing days of this Congress.
If the new Congress addresses relief in the new year, the legislation should be carefully targeted only to those who need it and should be free of pork.