President Trump on Friday signed into law a $2 trillion relief bill aimed at saving the economy from the crisis caused by the coronavirus outbreak. To paraphrase Speaker Pelosi commenting on Obamacare, “now that we passed it, we can see what’s in it.”
Let me be clear, we needed this bill. The coronavirus pandemic is serious. When people die it can get no more serious than that.
But as we all know, the bill was held up for several days in the House by Speaker Pelosi to add funding for non-coronavirus programs. Some items included funding for refugee resettlement, Public Broadcasting Stations, National Foundation on the Arts and Humanities, The Kennedy Center, The Institute of Museum and Library Services, Aid for International Development and many other initiatives.
In addition to the Congressional members themselves, we can’t forget the lobbyists. They were out in full force trying to feed from the trough.
I understand having worked in Congress as a staff member for both House and Senate members and as a staff member on the Treasury and Postal subcommittee, how “pork” works. Whenever there is a “must-pass” bill it is not uncommon to attach riders for programs which by themselves would have no chance of being funded. It is a tactic that will ensure that they get funded.
Both sides of the aisle have been doing this since Congress became an entity.
But it does beg the question: Was this the right time to do it?
Billions of dollars were added to the bill. Don’t you think that money could be used for the coronavirus response instead of non-critical programs? Would there ever be a time when politics and the use of “pork” would be put aside?
Are not the deaths of our citizens that time?
It’s amazing to me that members of Congress, on one hand, discuss the importance of taking care of Americans affected by the coronavirus pandemic with utmost haste. And on the other, hold up the bill to add funding for programs that have nothing to do with the current crisis.
How bad do things have to get before politics takes a back seat?
On this one, I come down not on the side of any party or President, but the side of the American people. In the history of our country, there has never been a stimulus bill as large as this one. We currently have a national debt of over $23 trillion so every dollar counts. I understand the reason and rationale for “pork.” I get that sometimes it’s a tactic that is necessary to bring “gifts” back to your home district.
This is not one of those times.
I pray that we will get past this crisis quickly but if we again need to come to the aid of our fellow citizens because of the coronavirus…please Congress… no more “pork.”
I doubt that will happen because as I said…. it’s in their DNA.
I’d like to hear your thoughts…
Stephen Phillip Monteiro is a law enforcement, security and intelligence consultant. He’s held senior leadership positions with consulting firms in Washington, DC and is a retired Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service and a veteran of the U.S. Navy.