A $900 billion stimulus package intended to support Americans affected by the economic impacts of Covid lockdowns and restrictions passed through Congress on Monday. The bill is part of a larger $1.4 trillion omnibus bill that is set to fund the government through September 2021, at the end of the fiscal year. Overall, it totals out to a whopping 5,500+ pages in length and $2.3 trillion in funds. The long-awaited made it through with overwhelming support in Congress, but the few elected officials who did not sign their names to the bill (or did so reluctantly) made their voices heard–loudly.

And, maybe to the surprise of us all, the voices of dissent included people as far left as Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and as far to the right as Senator Ted Cruz. Ocasio-Cortez voted for the bill but expressed dissatisfaction with the process. She tweeted in part on Monday, “Members of Congress have not read this bill. It’s over 5000 pages, arrived at 2pm today, and we are told to expect a vote on it in 2 hours.”

Cruz echoed the sentiment, tweeting “It’s ABSURD to have a $2.5 trillion spending bill negotiated in secret and then—hours later—demand an up-or-down vote on a bill nobody has had time to read,” and added, “#CongressIsBroken.” Five other Republican senators joined Cruz in voting against the bill.

Their frustration at being expected to vote for a bill no one has read makes a lot of sense–especially if you do what your elected officials did not do and read the bill. Which, you know, we’d consider part of their jobs. But I digress.

Now, granted, the full $2.3 trillion is intended to fund more than just Covid relief. But how out of touch is our government that the bill they’re parading around as “Covid relief” includes billions of dollars in foreign aid?

With that said, here’s 20 crazy things that actually appear in this bill that your elected officials did not read.

  1. $40 million designated for use by the Kennedy Center, which is not even open.

  2. A ban on the USPS mailing e-cigarettes

  3. The establishment of two new Smithsonian museums.

  4. $10 million for gender programs in Pakistan. Yup, you read that right.

  5. Foreign aid for the following countries: “$86 million for assistance to Cambodia; $130 million to Nepal, $135 million to Burma, $453 million to Ukraine, $700 million to Sudan.”

  6. A provision outlining “the reincarnation and succession of the Dalai Lama.” 

  7. $2 billion toward the Space Force.

  8. An anti-doping and medication control program for horse racing. 

  9. A racetrack safety program for horse racing.

  10. Funding for research on the “1908 Springfield Race Riot.” Yes, 1908.

  11. The establishment of a campaign whose purpose is to “educate consumers about the dangers associated with using or storing portable fuel containers for flammable liquids near an open flame.” I promise, I’m not making that up.

  12. $250 million over five years for Palestinian economic aid.”

  13. $500 million toward Israeli defense.

  14. “Internet freedom programs in closed societies” received $2.5 million in funds.

  15. The decriminalization of crimes that I can’t imagine were ever enforced in the first place. These include the “transportation of water hyacinths, alligator grass, or water chestnut plants across state lines” and the unauthorized use of certain government emblems like Smokey Bear.

  16. A provision banning the sale of Plum Island, which sits off the tip of Long Island.

  17. Changes to copyright laws, including making illegal streaming a felony.

  18. A “high-profile tax loophole for business meals”, known as the “three-martini lunch” (probably not on the top of the list of needs for the restaurant industry at the moment).

  19. $1.3 billion in border wall funding.

  20. $35 billion for clean energy research and development.”

Again, many of the strange or seemingly out of place provisions that appear in this bill are part of a larger funding package that does not have to do exclusively with Covid relief. However, it poses a problem when our elected officials are making the entire package look like it’s for Covid relief when, really, the average American won’t even see a hint of the trillions of dollars included in the spending package.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said the bill was insufficient, and more needed to be done for the American people, “Anyone who thinks this bill is enough doesn’t know what’s going on in America.”

Given that Schumer and his counterparts didn’t read the bill, he might not know that there’s a lot in there that has very little to do with what’s going on in America right now–or even America in general.

Our elected officials are pitifully out of touch with the people they serve. This bill offers a case study in the exploitative nature of big government.

Liana I.
FFL Cabinet
Liana is a follower of Christ and current communications student at Fairleigh Dickinson University. She enjoys writing, reading, and serving others.

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