Sciascia: DC Is Dead Wrong - This Virus Relief Package Is a Disgrace
President Donald Trump on Friday signed into law a highly anticipated phase-three coronavirus relief bill meant to bolster the slumping United States economy amidst the ongoing global pandemic.
According to CNN, the Senate’s $2.2 trillion bipartisan CARES Act passed a Democrat-controlled House of Representatives by unanimous consent Friday afternoon after a previous version of the legislation was blocked earlier this week, prompting days of tense back-room negotiations.
The bill would make history as the single most expensive piece of emergency legislation passed in congressional history, delivering hundreds of billions of dollars in aid to hard-pressed American businesses and families.
Washington lawmakers celebrated.
Just hours earlier, however, spirits were not so high on the Hill, when Republican Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky earned the ire of his colleagues for announcing intentions to prevent fast-tracked passage of the legislation over procedural and spending concerns, Politico reported.
Crafted by a team of White House representatives and bipartisan Senate leaders behind closed doors in Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office, the revised CARES Act had come to fruition in less than 48 hours, according to previous reports from the outlet.
WATCH: President Trump signs $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill in the Oval Office pic.twitter.com/gjHJY1oNjQ
— QuickTake by Bloomberg (@QuickTake) March 27, 2020
.@POTUS just signed the CARES Act. The Senate’s bold legislation is now law.
It will get emergency cash to families and small businesses and surge resources to doctors, nurses, hospitals, and the race for new treatments and vaccines. #WeAreAllInThisTogether
— Leader McConnell (@senatemajldr) March 27, 2020
The American people had no detailed idea of what the 880-page relief package contained. Yet the Senate would move the bill from introduction to passage over the course of single day, voting 96-0 in favor.
With House passage already assumed to be a forgone conclusion by Thursday evening, and large-group viral transmission concerns growing in Washington, a number of lawmakers headed home, trusting those who remained to pass the relief package by a simple voiced vote of unanimous consent.
Massie, uncomfortable with expedited passage of the single largest spending bill in U.S. history, had one request: that lawmakers return to the Hill for an official roll call vote, making public and permanent their position on the legislation.
His simple motion, doomed to fail, would earn him the ire of D.C. swamp rats and prominent political figures on both sides of the aisle, as USA Today reported.
The president himself would call for Massie’s excommunication from the Republican Party. From the left, Obama administration Secretary of State John Kerry would call the conservative Kentucky Republican an “a–hole” on Twitter.
That Massie had been “un-American” for his position on the legislation was the second bipartisan conclusion in Washington this week — heck, this last decade.
But the response certainly raises the question: When did mere opposition to expedited passage of the most expensive and opaque piece of legislation in U.S. history become un-American?
.@RepThomasMassie: “I came here to make sure our republic doesn’t die by unanimous consent in an empty chamber and I request a recorded vote.”
“A recorded vote is refused…The chair will count for a quorum…A quorum is present. The motion is adopted.” pic.twitter.com/kCXgDwAGvR
— CSPAN (@cspan) March 27, 2020
That is not simply a rhetorical question, either. I would sincerely like someone to answer it for me.
And in pre-emptive response to those who will undoubtedly question small-government, fiscal conservatives regarding their supposed lack of care for those impacted — both in terms of health and economics — by this pandemic, let me clarify.
It is unquestionable that coming stories of layoffs and missed rent payments are going to be heartbreaking. Those impacted need relief more than anything else.
In fact, given the ridiculous bailouts I’ve seen for financial institutions and manufacturers in my short lifetime, main street is more deserving of relief this time around than anyone. But America cannot allow the promise of a few four-figure checks to blind them to the fact that this bill is not the relief they want or need.
With one swoop of the executive pen, the CARES Act just cost U.S. taxpayers nearly 10 percent of the current national debt.
Does it provide roughly $850 billion for small business and distressed companies, $250 billion for unemployment benefits and another $250 billion for the direct cash payments to American families?
It certainly does — and those are all provisions most people can get behind wholeheartedly.
But when legislation gets unanimous passage in a split Congress in Washington, D.C., and the American people never get to see it, you can bet top dollar that bill is a win for one party only: the political establishment.
Unsurprisingly, that is exactly what this bill is. Pork-rolled with more earmarks than we have even begun to find out, the CARES Act allocates hundreds of millions of dollars across institutions such as the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities, National Public Radio and the Election Assistance Commission, according to Forbes.
And if this kind of chaotic emergency spending is somehow considered patriotic or “American” in any way whatsoever, stick a fork in this country. It’s done.
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