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GOP congressman introduces bill to rescind $25 million for Kennedy Center


Rep. Bryan Steil (R-Wis.) says it is 'inappropriate funding' from the coronavirus package

Rep. Bryan Steil (R-Wis.)/(Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

Wisconsin Rep. Bryan Steil (R) introduced legislation on Friday to rescind the $25 million that Congress approved for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts from a $2 trillion coronavirus relief package, saying it was "inappropriate" for the funds to be included in the stimulus bill in the first place.

What are the details?

"Families and workers are struggling to pay rent, pay their mortgage, and buy groceries," Steil said in a statement explaining his bill, reported by Kenosha News. "Americans need relief and assistance now which is why I supported the CARES Act. However, some in Washington felt it was important to spend $25 million of taxpayer dollars on the Kennedy Center when there are obviously bigger needs right now."

He added, "This is frivolous spending in the midst of a national emergency."

News of the Kennedy Center receiving funds outraged several Republicans, many of whom fought to have the funds excluded from the final coronavirus relief package. Hours after the CARES Act passed — with the Kennedy Center's bailout funds intact — the Center informed the nearly 100 members of the National Symphony Orchestra that they would be laid off.

Rep. Steil told the Daily Caller he was against the pork going to the Kennedy Center as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act from the get-go.

"So we were negotiating this bill," the congressman recalled. "[House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) holds up getting relief to Americans to try to get this and other things in the bill. And so the day that the House passed this bill, I drove from Janesville, Wisconsin, to Washington, D.C., to be there."

"I spoke on the bill, spoke about how I thought the funding for the Kennedy Center was inappropriate," Steil continued. "And then before I left Washington, D.C., to drive back home, the day we passed the bill, I dropped this bill into the hopper and introduced it to start day one. The moment after we passed a bill to begin the work of improving it and getting out of the bill, inappropriate funding."

He added, "A handful of days later, after this passes and you find out that the Kennedy Center is laying people off. That's almost the icing on the cake."

Congressman Steil's legislation to strip the $25 million from the Kennedy Center currently has 15 cosponsors, including House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.).

Editor's note: The original version of this story incorrectly referred to Rep. Steil as "Ryan" Steil rather than Bryan. TheBlaze regrets the error.

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