Coronavirus Stimulus Proposals Aren't Limited to Coronavirus Spending
By Kristina Peterson
As negotiators work to iron out a compromise on unemployment
payments, school funding and other pressing matters related to the
coronavirus pandemic, Republicans and Democrats are also trying to
weed out items they say have nothing to do with the outbreak.
The latest stimulus package is expected to run north of $1
trillion, and large bills in Congress inevitably attract spending
proposals that have little or nothing to do with the core thrust of
the legislation. This time -- and with not much else expected to
get passed before the election -- some lawmakers and President
Trump included pet projects in their parties' plans in the hopes
they survive in any eventual deal.
They have been met with a cool reception. Democrats have
criticized items pushed by the White House, while Senate Majority
Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) said he was opposed to all
measures not closely connected to pandemic relief -- whether they
came from Democrats or Republicans.
"When we get to the end of the process I would hope all of the
non-Covid related measures are out, no matter what bills they were
in at the start, " he said.
Here's a look at what could be on the chopping block -- or might
stay in as a bargaining chip for another priority.
From the Senate GOP bill released last week:
--$1.75 billion to build a new Federal Bureau of Investigation
headquarters in downtown Washington
The Trump administration abruptly canceled plans in 2017 to
build a suburban FBI campus. Instead, it pushed to keep the
agency's current downtown location, saying officials wanted it to
remain across the street from the main Justice Department building,
and the White House is pushing for funds to construct a new
building. Keeping the FBI downtown would prevent the redevelopment
of the site, which is near the Trump International Hotel. Both
Democrats and Republicans have widely criticized the inclusion of
the funds in the bill. "You have to be near the Justice
Department," Mr. Trump said last week. "They had sites way out in
Virginia, way out in Maryland, I said the best place is right where
it is.... So we have that in the bill. It should stay."
--$377 million for renovations to the West Wing of the White
House and a screening facility
This is another proposal from the White House. Press secretary
Kayleigh McEnany said Friday that much of that funding would
"pertain to safety protocols," including filtration systems,
enhanced communication ability and other "needs highlighted by the
--Assorted spending on defense systems and weapons
In the GOP bill, Senate Republicans included $29 billion for the
Defense Department, including $686 million for F-35 jet fighters,
$283 million for Apache AH-64 attack helicopters, $1 billion for
maritime surveillance aircraft, $1.5 billion for four expeditionary
medical ships and $49 million for sonar buoys that can track
objects underwater. In some instances, the bill replenishes Defense
Department funds that were redirected in previous years by the
administration to help build the wall along the border with Mexico.
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman James Inhofe (R., Okla.)
has said that while the stimulus bill isn't the ideal place for
military spending, the military needs every opportunity possible
From the Democratic bill passed by the House in May:
--Repeal of the $10,000 cap on the state and local tax deduction
for 2020 and 2021
In their 2017 tax overhaul, Republicans placed a $10,000 cap on
the amount of state and local taxes that taxpayers can deduct from
federal taxable income. Governors of high-tax states such as New
York and New Jersey want Congress to eliminate the cap. Doing so
would help their constituents, make it easier for them to raise
state and local taxes and reduce incentives for people to move to
lower-taxed states. Repealing that limit would also deliver direct
tax cuts to high-income households, and the top 1% of households
would get 57% of the benefits, according to the Tax Policy Center.
"We need to cushion the blow of this virus. The SALT cap hurts
people affected by the virus," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer
(D., N.Y.) said in New York last month. "It hurts so many of the
metropolitan areas like New York."
--Banking access for marijuana businesses
The provision would protect financial institutions that serve
marijuana businesses in states where the substance is legal.
Federally insured depository institutions are prohibited from
offering financial services to such businesses because pot is
illegal under federal law, forcing the companies to deal primarily
in cash. Supporters say the proposal would make it easier for
legitimate marijuana businesses to conduct transactions without
cash, making them safer during a pandemic. "I don't agree with you
that cannabis is not related to this. This is a therapy that has
proven successful," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) said
last week when asked by reporters about the proposal.
Write to Kristina Peterson at firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
August 04, 2020 07:14 ET (11:14 GMT)
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