Congress passed a 5,600 page monstrosity of a spending bill yesterday doling out $2.3 trillion in total. Included in the $2.3 trillion is $900 billion in COVID-19 relief that gives $600 to most Americans struggling to cope with the epidemic. What’s $600 got to do with it? I don’t know. The relief bill also expands the Paycheck Protection Program for various businesses. I hope the alleged COVID-19 relief is as advertised and that someone out there is verifying it.
The omnibus spending provisions include a panoply of the traditional money for nothing and worse to which we have grown accustomed. Happy days are apparently here again. The New York Post’s Steven Nelson itemizes a few examples plucked from the omnibus spending provisions:
• $4 billion for New York’s MTA as part of bailouts for mass-transit systems.
• $15 billion earmarked toward grant programs for live entertainment venues such as Broadway.
• $7 billion toward expanding broadband access.
• A rule saying the US Postal Service can no longer deliver e-cigarettes.
• New museums on the National Mall that will focus on Latinos and women — pushed by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY).
• A declaration condemning a possible role by the Chinese Communist Party in the selection of Tibet’s next Dalai Lama. The current Tibetan Buddhist religious leader is 85.
• $250 million over five years for Palestinian economic aid, which was pushed by New York Democratic Rep. Nita Lowey.
• $101 million to combat “the transnational threat of wildlife poaching and trafficking.”
• $2.5 million for “Internet freedom programs in closed societies”
• $10 million for “gender programs” meant to help women get education and start businesses in Pakistan.
Nelson itemized $1.4 billion for a construction of a wall on the southern US border. We support the wall. We hope the appropriated money is spent to build it. Nelson also itemized $500 million earmarked for Israeli defense purchases, including the Iron Dome missile defense system. We support the aid to Israel. Jonathan Tobin takes it up in this column. Details on the $250 million in Palestinian aid are discussed here.
Jim Geraghty considers President Trump’s possible responses to the bill here. Geraghty’s column is helpful. It ain’t easy.
Below is a tweet with a video of the monstrosity making its way through Congress via Robby Soave/Reason, with a list that only partially duplicates Nelson’s. We are bound to discover more and perhaps worse in the next few days.
Folks! The bill is on the move! pic.twitter.com/AYTztVZaYA
— Garrett Haake (@GarrettHaake) December 21, 2020