President Trump has rejected the newest COVID stimulus bill passed by Congress, calling it a “disgrace” and demanded that they amend the bill with less pork and higher payments to the American people. The bill sent to the President was a 5,593 page behemoth stuffed with pork. It included payments to illegal immigrants along with massive payouts to foreign governments!
The legislation authorizes $600 stimulus checks for people earning less than $75,000, and an extra $600 payment per child. The bill contains a $300 weekly unemployment insurance supplement and authorizes $284.4 billion in Paycheck Protection Program forgivable loans for small businesses. President Trump is demanding Congress pass a new bill “or else!
While he did not explicitly say he would not sign the bill, which passed overwhelmingly Monday in both houses of Congress, Trump made clear he would not accept the legislation. “It really is a disgrace,” he said in a video message. “I am asking Congress to amend this bill and increase the ridiculously low $600 to $2,000, or $4,000 for a couple. “I’m also asking Congress to immediately get rid of the wasteful and unnecessary items from this legislation, and just send me a suitable bill.”
Here is a breakdown of where your tax dollars are going, courtesy of Politico.
$166 billion in direct checks — Individuals making up to $75,000 a year will receive a payment of $600, while couples making up to $150,000 will receive $1,200, in addition to $600 per child. The deal also makes the stimulus checks more accessible to immigrant families.
$120 billion in extra unemployment help — Jobless workers will get an extra $300 per week in federal cash through March 14. The legislation also extends employment benefits to self-employed individuals, gig workers and those who’ve exhausted their state benefits.
$325 billion small business boost — Pandemic-ravaged small businesses would see a total of $325 billion, including $284 billion in loans through the Paycheck Protection Program, $20 billion for businesses in low-income communities and $15 billion for struggling live venues, movie theaters and museums — a major priority for Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.
Totaling tax breaks — The legislation allows businesses to deduct expenses associated with their forgiven PPP loans, in addition to expanding the employee retention credit intended to prevent layoffs. It includes a two-year tax break for business meals — a priority for President Donald Trump — and rolls over a variety of temporary tax breaks known as “extenders,” some for multiple years. The package also extends a payroll tax subsidy for employers offering workers paid sick leave and boosts the Earned Income Tax Credit.
Border wall status quo — The government funding portion of the year-end package would maintain nearly $1.4 billion in cash for Trump’s southern border wall, in addition to $20 million for new border processing coordinators.
$45 billion in transportation aid — That includes $15 billion to help airlines maintain their payrolls, $14 billion for mass transit, $10 billion for state highways, $2 billion for airports and $1 billion for Amtrak.
Food and farmer assistance — The year-end package includes $13 billion to bolster food stamp benefits by 15 percent, although it doesn’t expand SNAP eligibility. Farmers and ranchers will also see another $13 billion round of direct payments to help cover pandemic-induced losses.
‘Surprise billing’ deal: The omnibus includes an agreement to protect patients from receiving “surprise” medical bills after last-minute haggling — a major priority for retiring Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.). As POLITICO reported earlier this month, shielding insured patients from eye-popping medical bills for unexpected out-of-network and emergency care has been a bipartisan priority for lawmakers, but progress had been stalled for over a year.
$69 billion for vaccines, testing and tracing — The package includes $20 billion for the purchase of vaccines, nearly $9 billion for vaccine distribution and about $22 billion to help states with testing, tracing and Covid-19 mitigation programs.
Restoring Medicaid for the Marshallese — Tens of thousands of Marshall Islanders will be allowed to sign up for Medicaid, with the year-end agreement revising a drafting mistake in the 1996 welfare reform bill that barred the islanders from the program.
Rental aid and an eviction ban — Of the $25 billion in federal rental assistance, $800 million is set aside for Native American housing entities. A federal eviction ban has been extended through the end of January.
Infusion for schools and child care — Included in the $82 billion total for colleges and universities is more than $4 billion for a governors’ relief fund, more than $54 billion for public K-12 schools and nearly $23 billion for a higher education fund. Separately, the child care sector will receive about $10 billion in emergency cash.
Higher education compromise: The legislation includes a bipartisan agreement to forgive nearly $1.3 billion in federal loans to historically Black colleges and universities, deliver Pell grants to incarcerated students after a 26-year ban and simplify financial aid forms — the last of those three has been a long-time priority for the retiring Alexander.
Pay boost for troops — The omnibus portion of the year-end package includes a 3 percent military pay raise.
Keeping contractor relief: The package continues a CARES Act program that allows contractors to keep employees on the payroll even if federal facilities close.
A variety of reauthorizations: The government funding piece includes a compromise version of an annual intelligence authorization bill and ensures that a major water infrastructure package will hitch a ride to passage. It also includes technical corrections to the United States-Mexico-Canada-Agreement.
A boon for broadband: The agreement invests $7 billion to increase expand broadband access for students, families and unemployed workers, including $300 million for rural broadband and $250 million for telehealth.
From thehill.com: The $900 billion stimulus package COVID-19 “relief” bill is exactly what one would expect from a dysfunctional, tone-deaf Congress: a pork-filled cluster filled with anything and everything that has nothing to do with the coronavirus pandemic or relief.
And in the swampiest thing ever, the bill, which is combined with a $1.4 trillion omnibus spending bill, is 5,593 pages long, or 5,583 pages too many, was given to lawmakers six hours before a vote to review what exactly is in it (hint: more pork than a Tyson Foods plant).
It harkens back to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) once explaining that a bill needed to be passed in order to find out what was in it. In a related story, our government is broken.
The top-line from the bill says a mere $600 per adult and $600 per child goes to those eligible, which is half of what adults received in another relief package passed earlier this year (the per-child payment was $500). Not hard to see that this amount is hardly enough to keep those struggling from staying out of poverty.
So where is the rest of the $1.4 trillion going? Glad you asked!
Exhibit A: “Of the funds appropriated under title III of the Act that are made available for assistance for Pakistan, not less than $15,000,000 shall be made available for democracy programs and not less than $10,000,000 shall be made available for gender programs.” Yep. $10 million. For gender programs. In Pakistan.
Exhibit B: Funds for “Resource Study of Springfield (Illinois) Race Riot.” That riot occurred in (checks notes) 1908.
Exhibit C: “Statement Of Policy Regarding The Succession Or Reincarnation Of The Dalai Lama.” We’ll just leave that one there.
Exhibit D: There’s actually a commission tasked with educating “consumers about the dangers associated with using or storing portable fuel containers for flammable liquids near an open flame.”
Exhibit E: Another $40 million will be allocated “for the necessary expenses for the operation, maintenance and security” of The Kennedy Center, which received $25 million in another COVID-19 relief bill earlier this year. Also in a related story, the Kennedy Center has been closed.
Exhibits F, G, H, I, J: $86 million for assistance to Cambodia; $130 million to Nepal, $135 million to Burma, $453 million to Ukraine, $700 million to Sudan.
Exhibit K: The bill creates a Women’s History Museum and an American Latino Museum as part of the Smithsonian. Overall, the Smithsonian gets (checks notes again) $1 billion.
You get the idea. It’s the oldest trick in Washington: Take a bill that symbolically is overwhelmingly supported by the American people on its title alone (COVID-19 relief for those struggling due to the pandemic). Then attach every pet project possible, in this case by combining it with an omnibus spending bill, and away we go.