FILE – In this April 15, 2018, file photo, Reba McEntire arrives at the 53rd annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Iconic singer and actress Cher, composer Phillip Glass, McEntire and jazz legend Wayne Shorter have been announced as this year’s recipients of the Kennedy Center Honors awards. The recipients will be honored in a special ceremony at Washington’s Kennedy Center on Dec. 2. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)
Last week, Congress passed a $2 trillion stimulus bill and — like Kermit the Frog’s romantic dreams — there was a bit of pork involved.
As you likely know, the bill included $25 million for the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
And, as I relayed on the 28th, after the relief package was passed, the Kennedy Center laid off 96 orchestra members.
After $25 million stimulus, stunned National Symphony Orchestra players receive one-week notice from Kennedy Center https://t.co/cKw1v1ZYjM
— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) March 28, 2020
Republican Wisconsin Rep. Bryan Steil’s particularly without appreciation, so he’s introduced a proposal to rescind the $25 mil.
In a press release, he laid it out:
“Some in Washington felt it was important to spend $25 million of taxpayer dollars on the Kennedy Center when there are obviously bigger needs right now. This is frivolous spending in the midst of a national emergency. Coronavirus requires a serious and targeted response.”
All that could be just as true, of course, without the layoffs.
The new bill’s been co-sponsored by 13 other lawmakers.
As per House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA), it would revoke the bailout from the home of the National Symphony Orchestra and Washington National Opera, handing it “back to the American people.”
Who’s idea was the Kennedy thing, anyway? Steve fingered Nancy Pelosi:
“If an organization is receiving assistance from the federal government, we expect them to take care of their workers. As we take further Congressional action to fight the coronavirus’s devastating impact on families and our economy, I call on Speaker Pelosi to finally put the American people, not special interests, first.”
He also spoke out on Fox News:
Thanks @SteveScalise for supporting my bill that takes back the $25 million from DC’s Kennedy Center. This money should be spent fighting the virus or in taxpayers’ pockets! WATCH on @seanhannity here: pic.twitter.com/HgmYGEdvE5
— Bryan Steil (@RepBryanSteil) March 31, 2020
“While everybody else was working together — Republican and Democrat — with President Trump, who was solely focused on fighting for jobs for American families…Nancy Pelosi literally held the bill up for days to get her pet projects, including the money for the Kennedy Center. … [I]t shows you how misguided Pelosi’s priorities were — she was fighting for all these far-Left Green New Deals, and solar panels on airplanes, and crazy stuff that nobody else was focused on. People were trying to literally save jobs and the livelihood of our economy, and hospitals getting the resources they need. And President Trump was pushing as hard as he could to get that money out, and she was holding it up for those kind of things.”
As reported by The Washington Free Beacon, the musicians were informed they’d be paid again once the center re-opens.
But where’s all that money going?
One veteran virtuoso lamented the lousy layoff to the Beacon:
“It’s very disappointing they’re going to get that money and then drop us afterward. The Kennedy Center blindsided us.”
As for the payout itself, the President indicated he was in favor:
“I’m a fan of that. I haven’t spent time there because I’m far too busy. I’d love to go there evenings, but I’m too busy doing things.”
But as it turned out, the Center wasn’t a fan of passing on any assistance to its music folk.
And it isn’t just instrumentalists who’ve been let go.
From The Daily Wire:
According to The Washington Post, the center has furloughed a total of 1,100 staffers. Deborah Rutter, president of the Kennedy Center, told the news agency the organization is prioritizing long-term stability.
What do you think of the stimulus bill that passed? In your view, what other parts did they get wrong?
And do you think Congress has what it takes to take back the $25 million?
Let us all know in the Comments section.
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