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GOP’s COVID Relief Package: Cut relief payment for unemployment and build new FBI building

BY: Yusra Adil

With Congress back in session, Senate Republicans released their $1 trillion coronavirus relief package, which includes a cut of $400 to the enhanced unemployment benefit for Americans out of work because of Covid-19 crisis, and a new budget for plans to reconstruct the FBI Building in Washington, DC.    

The Republican proposal will cost about $1 trillion, and includes $105 billion for schools and $16 billion in new money for testing. It aims to expand small business loans in the Paycheck Protection Program, and introduce tax incentives for employers to rehire and retain employees. It will also include liability protection for businesses, schools, hospitals and non-profits. Furthermore, the relief package allocates $1.75 billion for the reconstruction of a new D.C. headquarters for the FBI. This leads many to question the priorities of congressional Republicans and the White House. The FBI building was initially supposed to be relocated to a secure campus in the suburbs. Instead, it is being rebuilt in the same position in front of the Trump Hotel. 

Back in 2018, Trump suggested that instead of relocating the FBI headquarters, it should be renovated on the same site. Many accuse Trump of wanting to keep the building there to prevent competing hotels from being constructed on Pennsylvania Avenue. If the FBI Building relocated, it would open the vacant property to prospective hotel owners because of its popular location. This would lead to new competitors for the Trump Hotel. Senator Ben Cardin, a Democrat from Maryland, told NBC: “My guess is that this is a personal issue for the President of the United States. I think it has as much to do with the fact that his hotel is on Pennsylvania Avenue as it does with the FBI itself.”  

Some Democrats also question the decision to include the reconstruction of the FBI Building in the COVID-19 Relief Package. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) echoed these concerns when he stated, “They managed to have enough money for $2 billion for the FBI headquarters that benefits Trump hotel and they say they have no money for food assistance.” Several others have also objected to including the reconstruction of the FBI building in the COVID-19 Relief Package. “I just don’t get it — how is it tied to coronavirus?” said Florida’s Republican senator to The New York Times. Some congressional Republicans also expressed concerns. Trump ally Lindsey Graham, a Republican senator for South Carolina, said including the funding “makes no sense to me.” Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), also chipped in, and stated to NBC, “I don’t think it should be in the bill.” Even Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell objected to the unexpected demand from the White House.

*All arguments made and viewpoints expressed within Youth In Politics and its nominal entities do not necessarily reflect the views of the writers or the organization as a whole.


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