Kennedy Center Suspends Musician Pay; Republican Bryan Steil Moves to Rescind $25 Million from COVID-19 Stimulus Kennedy Center Suspends Musician Pay; Republican Bryan Steil Moves to Rescind $25 Million from COVID-19 Stimulus

Kennedy Center Suspends Musician Pay; Republican Bryan Steil Moves to Rescind $25 Million from COVID-19 Stimulus


It's no question that Speaker Pelosi filled the coronavirus stimulus bill with pork.

The bill still received bipartisan support because American workers and small businesses are hurting.

However, Republican Bryan Steil has moved to rescind the $25 million in funding to the Kennedy Center.

Why?

After news broke that the Kennedy Center would receive $25 million from the stimulus package, they announced that they would suspend musician pay.

That's right — after a stimulus bill intended to support workers, the Kennedy Center is choosing to use the money differently.

While "musician" is an untraditional job, they deserve the economic benefits other employees will receive through the stimulus deal.

More details on this developing story below:

It's just not the musicians at the Kennedy Center.

Multiple reports have surfaced claiming that up to 700 employees have been furloughed, despite the massive $25 million stimulus that the center will receive.

Many Republican legislators fear that the CARES act has been twisted for political purposes.

While the vast majority of funds will certainly help American workers and small businesses, there will inevitably be those trying to game the system.

The New York Post reports on Steil's move to rescind the funds:

Pressure is mounting for the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts to return $25 million it received from the massive federal coronavirus bailout package signed into law last week after its president was heard on leaked audio telling staffers their jobs would still be lost.

And one lawmaker has even introduced a bill to have the funds rescinded.

The audio, recorded during an internal conference call with staff, revealed how executives at the Washington, DC arts icon lobbied lawmakers for the massive handout from the $2 trillion national aid package — but then furloughed more than 700 staffers.

Wisconsin GOP Rep. Bryan Steil introduced a bill to rescind the $25 million in funding, saying the $2 trillion aid bill, known as the CARES Act, had been hijacked for political purposes.

“The Kennedy Center should not have been allowed to jump the line,” Rep. Steil told The Post.

“They should not have had a sweetheart deal to allow them to get $25 million and jump the line in front of everybody else. That was wrong,” he added.

The Wisconsin lawmaker, 39, said it was “appalling” that the arts center was furloughing hundreds of staff after receiving the large payday when businesses around the country were also struggling and health care workers are without equipment.

“I talked to people at home here in Janesville, I talked to a doctor who couldn’t get a medical mask, who couldn’t get PPE, then at the same time we see a sweetheart deal for a well-connected theater in Washington, DC,” he said.

“When you see huge pieces of legislation and large amounts of spending move quickly, there’s always a risk that people will try to utilize that to obtain benefits for their pet projects. We saw that with the Kennedy Center,” he said.

Republicans initially earmarked $1 million for the Kennedy Center, but Democrats boosted that figure to $25 million.

The hand-out for the cultural institution was already labeled by many conservatives as inappropriate, even though President Trump said he had no problem with it.

But that anger boiled over on Tuesday when it emerged the center never intended to save employees’ jobs with the money.

The CARES act is intended to stimulus the economy by supporting employees and businesses.

If the Kennedy Center is not going to pay its staff with the money, many argue that they shouldn't have taken the grant to begin with.

Many people took to Twitter to express their anger.

The center claimed that at least $20 million would be used for employee salaries.

However, it is now being reported that the Kennedy Center has furloughed up to 60 percent of its staff.

The organization has an endowment of $100 million, so many are arguing that it could easily continue to pay its staff, even without the stimulus money.

The Hill has more details on the Kennedy Center's use of the CARES act funds:

The Kennedy Center announced Tuesday that it will furlough 60 percent of its full-time administrative staff starting April 6 and “at least” through May 10.

The performing arts center and memorial for President John F. Kennedy received $25 million in funding in the $2.2 trillion stimulus package passed by the Senate last week.

The announcement broke down how that spending would be used.

It said nearly $20 million would be used for employee salaries and benefits, and that the rest would be used for utilities and deep cleaning costs. In addition to the stimulus funding, the center used a $10 million line of credit.

“This economic relief will save jobs and ensure jobs for our furloughed staff to come back to once the pandemic subsides and we are able to reopen for business,” the announcement read.

The Kennedy Center also employs 725 hourly and part-time employees. They are already not working or getting paid because of the coronavirus.

The center, which is home to the national orchestra, said ticket revenues and donations account for 80 percent of its budget. The coronavirus pandemic has forced it to close its doors and cancel shows, leading to a substantial gap in funding.

It appears that these funds are not being used for the intended purpose of the stimulus package. 

With the country taking on more debt to try to avoid economic catastrophe, it's important that our politicians and institutions are good stewards of tax payer money.

Will Representative Steil's calls to rescind the $25 million gain more steam?

If the online reaction is any preview... YES!


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