Alarming items stuffed inside House Dem’s $1.9T stimulus bill: Health surveillance, animal COVID studies
House Democrats unveiled Friday the $1.9 trillion economic stimulus package they hope to pass by late next week. Included in the bill are $1,400 stimulus checks and numerous other pandemic-related relief measures, like additional funding for state and local governments and more federal unemployment benefits. The bill — which was “stitched together” by the Democratic-controlled House Budget Committee, according to Reuters — was also filled with dozens of items completely unrelated to direct pandemic relief.
(READ: The full 591-page bill)
Federal minimum wage increase
The bill would enact a key promise made by President Joe Biden and Democrats, increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 by 2025.
Animal COVID studies
The bill allocates $300 million of taxpayer dollars for the Agriculture Department to “conduct monitoring and surveillance of susceptible animals for incidence of SARS–CoV–2” as guided by the World Organization for Animal Health.
‘Socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers’
Addressing farm loans, the bill states that the Agriculture Department “shall provide a payment in an amount equal to 120% of the outstanding indebtedness of each socially disadvantaged farmer or rancher as of January 1, 2021, to pay off the loan directly or to the socially disadvantaged farmer or rancher.”
The purpose of the debt payments is to “alleviat[e] discriminatory barriers preventing socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers from fully participating in the American farm economy.”
The bill also provides another $1 billion to the same group for “outreach, mediation, financial training, capacity building training, cooperative development training and support, and other technical assistance to socially disadvantaged groups.”
Student loan outreach
The bill allocates $91 million for the “Department of Education to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus, domestically or internationally, including direct outreach to students and borrowers about financial aid, economic impact payments, means tested benefits, and tax benefits for which they may be eligible.”
Fine arts and museums
The bill allocates $135 million to the National Endowment for the Arts and another $135 million to the National Endowment of the Humanities.
Meanwhile, the bill also allocates $200 million to the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
Native American languages
The bill also gives $10 million for the “preservation and maintenance of Native American languages.”
The bill provides $1 billion “to strengthen vaccine confidence in the United States,” “provide further information and education with respect to vaccines,” and “improve rates of vaccination throughout the United States.”
Family planning, which could include abortion, gets $50 million.
The bill provides $750 million for “the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to combat SARS–CoV– 2, COVID–19, and other emerging infectious disease threats globally, including efforts related to global health security, global disease detection and response, global health protection, global immunization, and global coordination on public health.”
The bill provides another $500 million “to support public health data surveillance and analytics infrastructure modernization initiatives at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”
The airline industry, which was controversially bailed out in the first stimulus last spring, gets another $15 billion in this bill.
(H/T: Oilfield Rando)