Rushed-through Coronavirus bill is packed with pork, most of it for foreign governments, not ours
Two Republicans, Reps. Andy Biggs and Ken Buck, voted Friday against an $8.3 billion coronavirus emergency funding bill. Speaking later that evening on Fox News, Buck defended his “no” vote by calling attention to all the pork contained in the bill.
“The president asked for $2.5 billion,” he said. “I would have supported that. The speaker decided to add all sorts of Christmas tree ornaments to this bill. It was unnecessary. It was too much money. And we never had a hearing to discuss it.”
Was he right? It depends on what you consider to be pork. A review of the bill shows that it contains oodles of potentially questionable funding.
For instance, the bill includes funding for the following foreign (not domestic) projects:
$264 million for “Diplomatic Programs”
$435 million for “Global Health Programs”
$300 million for “International Disaster Assistance”
$250 million for the “Economic Support Fund”
$100 million for “Worldwide Security Protection”
None of this foreign funding was requested by the administration. President Donald Trump had requested $2.5 billion to be distributed to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as the National Institutes of Health.
The White House request includes more than $1 billion to develop a vaccine, as well as money for therapeutics and stockpiles of protective equipment like masks. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi immediately poo-pooed the request, describing it as “inadequate.”
The House bill included those measures, as well as all the pork that undoubtedly is payback for lobbyist support of several Democrats.
President Trump signed the bill, having little choice despite the pork, (Photo: Fox News)
Senate Appropriations Committee chair Richard Shelby, a Republican, also criticized the proposal, saying, “It seems to me at the outset that this request for the money, the supplemental, is low-balling it, possibly, and you can’t afford to do that. If you low-ball something like this, you’ll pay for it later.”
Afterward, both congressional Democrats and Republicans began working together toward drafting the ostensibly bipartisan $8.3 billion coronavirus emergency funding bill that made it through the House on Friday.
Besides containing questionable foreign spending, the bill also contains a last-minute package pushed by Democrats on behalf of “several leading healthcare technology organizations,” ACV Reports has learned.
The American Telemedicine Association, HIMSS, the eHealth Initiative, Health Innovation Alliance and Personal Connected Health Alliance wrote recently to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), House Speaker Pelosi and other Congressional leaders, asking them to appropriate money available for telehealth services and give healthcare professionals "as many tools as possible" to combat spread of the coronavirus,.
Pelosi and crew honored the request by injecting an additional half a billion dollars into the bill. A more detailed breakdown of the spending bill can be viewed on The Conservative Treehouse, a right-wing blog known for its investigatory work.