Americans should be appalled by both the substance and the process of the latest COVID relief bill passed by Congress.
Our founding fathers intended for our country to be a constitutional Republic, where locally elected leaders would gather and through a process of careful deliberation and thoughtful debate arrive at decisions of nationwide importance. They would neither recognize nor respect a system where Congressmen and Senators are given a few hours to decide whether to vote for or against a 5,000 plus page proposal that they could not possibly even read, much less reflect upon.
There’s no doubt that Americans could use a relief package. We could have used one months ago. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi blocked the bill, she eventually admitted, in order to hurt President Trump’s re-election chances. After hurting the American people in order to hurt our President, she has now decided to send a Christmas-eve proposal to his desk and all but dared him to play the part of Scrooge.
Well, maybe he should. Because the substance of the bill is an insult to all Americans. Knowing full well that this was “must-pass” legislation, the Democrats – and many Republicans as well – filled the bill up with pork and wasteful spending that has absolutely nothing to do with helping out our fellow citizens.
As President Trump noted in his video address to the American people, this bill provides $85.5 million to Cambodia, $134 million to Burma, $1.3 billion for Egypt, and $25 million for democracy and gender programs in Pakistan.
But even as Congress is happy to send billions overseas, they have proven only willing to send 600 dollars to Americans to help see them through these troubling times.
What’s more, some parts of the bill are a direct insult to President Trump and his administration. President Trump and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos have been strong proponents of school choice, and have tried their best to persuade Congress to do something to expand it. But this bill actually prohibits governors from taking COVID relief funding and providing it to families whose children attend private schools. According to some insiders, this was a major sticking point for Congressional Democrats, who apparently harbor a profound hatred for private schools.
It also provides Pell Grants – money for college courses – to prisoners. Now, there’s a reasonable case for letting prisoners access higher education if doing so will help them prepare for a more productive life back in the real world. This had long been the Trump administration’s position. But this bill provides prisoners with Pell Grants with no restrictions whatsoever. That means that murderers and rapists who are serving life in prison or sitting on death row will be able to use your taxpayer money to take gender studies courses.
This bill is the swamp at its worst. This year, our politicians have shut down the country, intentionally delayed aid to Americans in order to hurt the President of the United States, and now that they’re finally getting around to doing something they put the American people last and their special interests, pet projects, and foreign nations first. And it’s politicians on both sides of the aisle. Remarkably, only six Republican Senators voted against this abomination of a bill.
President Trump issued a forceful critique of this bill, but soon he will have to decide what to actually do about it. He came to Washington, DC intending to drain the swamp. But he learned that the swamp doesn’t drain easily. And he has time and time again, seen that DC elites protect their own – not the American people.
That’s why it was inspiring to see him insist that this COVID relief bill actually be about COVID relief. He demanded that it provide Americans with more money – $2,000 per citizen – and give less of our taxpayer dollars to foreign nations and pork-barrel projects.
No group of Americans, sitting together in careful deliberation, would possibly arrive at anything resembling this bill for COVID relief. The profound disconnect between what our people actually want and what our politicians provide was a major part of the appeal of Donald Trump, the outsider, in the 2016 election, and a big part of why he got 13 million more votes in 2020. President Trump promised to put the American people first, and that’s exactly what he’s doing with his veto threat of this terrible bill.
Andrew Pollack is the President of the Crime Prevention Research Center.