The latest trillion-dollar economic stimulus, the CARES Act II, if passed, will placate many lower- and middle-class taxpayers with another round of $1,200 relief checks plus $500 for dependents of any age.
But fiscal conservatives are calling attention to the staggeringly sloppy franken-bill, even by Capitol Hill standards, according to Axios.
Among the more controversial riders is $1.75 billion for a brand-new FBI building, even as the agency continues to face serious fallout—and, likely, forthcoming criminal indictments—for its role in Obamagate scandals including the abuse of FISA surveillance warrants and unmasking of US civilians.
Surprisingly, the deep-state boon came not from House Democrats but from the Trump White House itself.
“Obviously we had to have an agreement with the administration in order to get started,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., “and they’ll have to answer the question of why they insisted on that provision.”
McConnell said he opposed all of the “non-germane” amendments to the package.
“When we get to the end of the process I would hope all of the non-COVID-related measures are out,” he said Tuesday following a Senate Republican luncheon.
Axios reported that two of the key Trump administration players—Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin—also were in attendance at the lunch meeting.
While McConnell, himself in the middle of a contentious re-election campaign, has tended more toward pragmatism in regards to the massive appropriations in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, some of the less-than-loyal GOP mavericks were not as diplomatic.
Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., a frequent Trump critic, blamed both House Democrats and the White House for their wasteful spending of tax coffers—which will inevitably saddle future generations with debt.
“The swamp should stop pretending there’s some thoughtful negotiation happening here,” Sasse said in a statement, according to Axios, while referring to Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., as “”two big government Democrats.”
Other conservative Trump allies—including GOP Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Josh Hawley of Missouri—expressed their bewilderment with the process.
“It’s a mess. I can’t figure out what this bill’s about,” said Hawley.
Hawley noted that it was unlikely the final product would look anything like the draft proposal, which is merely the starting point for bargaining with Democrats.
“This is not going to be the bill,” he said. “They’re going to go negotiate with Pelosi. We have no idea what the final bill will be, and we’ll be the last to know.”
But Meadows suggested that his famous deal-making boss may have taken that into account when making his opening bid.
He downplayed the idea that the current package was intended to be exclusively for COVID-relief measures, particularly as the nation faces equally serious threats from ongoing domestic race-riots and from enemies abroad like China and Russia, which are likely to attempt, once again, to interfere in the November elections.
“There are a number of things in the last bill that had nothing to do with the coronavirus,” Meadows told reporters. “I think everybody acknowledges that it’s a funding mechanism. And I don’t see it standing in the way of us getting a deal.”