House Republicans are planning to introduce a bill to take back the $25 million that the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts received in the COVID-19 response bill, citing the fact that the center furloughed orchestra members hours after the bill was signed into law.
“This money should be spent fighting the virus or in taxpayers’ pockets!” Steil tweeted.
House Minority Whip Steve Scalise voiced his support for the idea Monday night on Fox News.
“Nancy Pelosi literally held the bill up for days to get her pet projects including the money for the Kennedy Center. Interesting she’d use the choice of words ‘fiddlers’ because it was the fiddlers, the violin players, all the musicians at the Kennedy Center that got laid off right as the bill got signed,” Scalise told Tucker Carlson.
“They ought to give that money back,” Scalise said.
In the middle of a national emergency, Nancy Pelosi fought to give the Kennedy Center $25 MILLION…and then they stopped paying their musicians anyway.
RT if you agree → Congress should take that money back and give it to hospitals and hardworking families in need. pic.twitter.com/RtY354yUoc
— Steve Scalise (@SteveScalise) March 31, 2020
“But it shows you how misguided Pelosi’s priorities were,” Scalise added.
The Democrats included $25 million in taxpayer funding for the Kennedy Center in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, which they were originally criticized for before winning the support of President Donald Trump himself.
“That was a Democrat request. That was not my request,” Trump said.
“But you got to give them something.”
Hours after Trump signed the $2 trillion CARES Act into law Friday, an email obtained by the Washington Free Beacon said 96 members of the National Symphony Orchestra will no longer receive paychecks after April 3.
“The Covid-19 Advisory Committee was broadsided today during our conversation with [Kennedy Center President] Deborah Rutter,” the email read.
“Ms. Rutter abruptly informed us today that the last paycheck for all musicians and librarians will be April 3 and that we will not be paid again until the Center reopens.”
The email added that orchestra members should continue as if their April 3 paycheck will be their last.
“We understand this will come [as a] shock to all of you, as it did us,” the email read.
On March 12, the Kennedy Center announced it would cancel all public performances and events and shut its doors to the public through March 31.
The cancelations were later extended through May 10.
In a statement to the Washington Examiner, the president of the Local 161-710 of the American Federation of Musicians criticized the center for its decision.
“This decision, from an organization with an endowment of nearly $100 million, is not only outrageous — coming after the musicians had expressed their willingness to discuss ways to accommodate the Kennedy Center during this challenging time — it is also blatantly illegal under the parties’ collective bargaining agreement,” Ed Malaga said.
“That agreement specifically requires that the Center provide six weeks’ notice before it can stop paying musicians for economic reasons.”
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