GOP virus relief bill slashes unemployment but spends billions on military planes

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The bill Mitch McConnell released added billions to acquire new fighter jets and military ships, as well as funding for a new FBI headquarters.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell released the GOP's coronavirus relief bill, which would slash unemployment benefits to millions of laid-off workers by two-thirds but adds billions in unrelated spending, including nearly $30 billion in additional military spending.

The bill would cut weekly unemployment insurance to the more than 30 million laid-off workers from $600 per week to $200 per week — which economists say could lead to more hardship for tens of millions of jobless Americans.

But it adds another $29.4 billion for Defense Department spending, according to a summary of the bill from Senate Finance Committee Chair Richard Shelby. That includes at least $7 billion for military equipment, including fighter jets and military ships, according to Congressional Quarterly's John M. Donnelly.

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Also included in the bill is an additional tax deduction for businesses for meal and entertainment costs that economists say will not help the struggling economy, as well as $1.75 billion to build a new FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C. — a project Donald Trump has been pushing for, the Washington Post reported.

The unrelated spending was panned by congressional Democrats, who have been working to pass a coronavirus relief bill that would extend added unemployment benefits for months.

The Democratic-controlled House, for its part, passed its own bill on May 15 that would extend the $600 weekly unemployment boost through the rest of the year. But Republicans refused to work with that legislation, ultimately waiting so long to release their bill that the $600 weekly unemployment insurance boost had no chance of being renewed.

"Senate Republicans just put a provision to spend nearly $2 billion of taxpayer funds on a new FBI building across the street from the Trump International Hotel in their PANDEMIC RESPONSE bill. Flagrant corruption does not cure COVID-19," Rep. Don Beyer, a Virginia Democrat who's been sounding the alarm about the expiration of the unemployment benefits, tweeted

Rep. Chuy Garcia (D-IL) also criticized Republicans for adding unrelated military spending in the legislation.

"The @SenateGOP called the #HeroesAct a left wing wish list for providing real relief for struggling families. But they just proposed a bill with $686 million for new fighter jets," Garcia tweeted, referencing the bill Democrats passed in May. "Last time I checked #F35s don't help families pay their bills. Their hypocrisy is unbelievable."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.