Former House Oversight Committee chairman Jason Chaffetz calls on Dems to ‘cut reckless spending’

Jason Chaffetz on Wednesday called on Democrats to ‘cut out the pork and all the reckless spending’ from the COVID relief bill after President Donald Trump’s demand for $2,000 relief checks.

The former House Oversight Committee chairman was guest hosting Sean Hannity’s show on Fox News when he told viewers: ‘Congress has a choice to make.

‘Will they deliver needed aid to Americans struggling [in] the pandemic, or will they retreat to the old ways of Washington, where pork-packed projects, foreign nations, and the special interests take priority over the forgotten men and women of the United States of America?’ 

Trump’s demand for additional relief money for Americans blindsided all of Washington – members of both parties on Capitol Hill and several of his White House staff alike. 

The president’s last-minute objections are setting up a defining showdown with his own Republican Party in his final days in office. 

House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy said it would not happen, telling his fellow Republicans on a conference call Wednesday that the unanimous consent request Nancy Pelosi plans for the $2,000 checks will not go through.

McCarthy’s approval would be needed to proceed with the unanimous consent request. Any objection to a unanimous consent renders it moot.  

Jason Chaffetz on Wednesday called on Democrats to 'cut out the pork and all the reckless spending' after President Donald Trump's demand for $2,000 relief checks

Jason Chaffetz on Wednesday called on Democrats to ‘cut out the pork and all the reckless spending’ after President Donald Trump’s demand for $2,000 relief checks

Trump left Washington D.C. for Christmas at his Mar-a-Lago resort Wednesday afternoon – less than 24 hours after releasing a video on Twitter suggesting he would veto the finally negotiated COVID-19 aid package, which is attached to a government funding bill. 

He had called the aid package a ‘disgrace’ and later vetoed the National Defense Authorization Act telling Congress he couldn’t sign the bill for a number of reasons, including that it sought to rename military bases named after Confederate figures.

Trump later retweeted his 2014 post about government waste which read: ‘I hope we never find life on other planets because there’s no doubt that the U.S. Government will start sending them money!’ 

Trump later retweeted this 2014 post about government waste

Trump later retweeted this 2014 post about government waste

Chaffetz said Wednesday: ‘President Trump was elected to be a disruptive force. He was never a ‘go along to get along’ politician.

‘Time and time again, President Trump has made it clear that he hears the call from American people to stand up to the political class and he hears calls to buck the status quo and to stand up to special interests. His only priority has been that of the American people.’

Chaffetz finished by telling viewers: ‘Here’s the core question. 

‘Will they also agree to cut out the pork and all the reckless spending in the legislation? They probably won’t. Unfortunately, wasteful spending and misplaced priorities are nothing new inside the Democrats’ ever-growing far-left wishlist.’

Trump left Washington D.C. for Christmas at his Mar-a-Lago resort with Melania Wednesday afternoon – less than 24 hours after releasing a video on Twitter suggesting he would veto the finally negotiated COVID-19 aid package, which is attached to a government funding bill

Trump left Washington D.C. for Christmas at his Mar-a-Lago resort with Melania Wednesday afternoon – less than 24 hours after releasing a video on Twitter suggesting he would veto the finally negotiated COVID-19 aid package, which is attached to a government funding bill

Trump has five days to sign the package or else the government will shut down, which is what lawmakers were working so hard to avoid. 

Up until Tuesday night, all signs pointed to the bill’s immediate passage with Trump’s signature once it finally reached his desk.

Legislative affairs staffers in the White House and others involved in the negotiations had no idea Trump was taping the video and apologized to the surprised lawmakers.

Both houses had easily passed the bill – 359-53 in the House and 91-7 in the Senate – both far above the two-thirds which would be needed to override a veto, but there may not be enough time in the Congressional calendar to fix it. 

COVID Stimulus Bill Breakdown 

 The $900billion stimulus plan Congress approved Monday would provide direct aid to citizens as well as aid to businesses.

Provisions include:

  • Direct payments of $600 to most adults and $600 per child. The check amount decreases for those who earned more than $75,000 in the 2019 tax year, and will not go out at all to those who made more than 99,000
  • A $300 unemployment supplement while retaining pandemic-era programs that expanded unemployment insurance eligibility. The benefit could kick in by Dec. 27 and run through March 14
  • $284 billion for government payroll loans, including expanded eligibility for nonprofits and local newspapers and TV and radio broadcasters. This includes $15 billion for live venues, independent movie theaters, and cultural institutions and $20 billion for targeted disaster grants
  • $82 billion for colleges and schools, including support for heating-and-cooling systems upgrades to mitigate virus transmission and reopen classrooms, and $10 billion for child care assistance
  • $45 billion for transportation assistance, including $15 billion to U.S. passenger airlines for payroll assistance, $14 billion for transit systems, $10 billion for state highway funding and $1 billion for Amtrak passenger railroad
  • $25 billion for rental assistance for families struggling to stay in their homes, and an extension of the eviction moratorium.
  • $26 billion for food/farm assistance. Increases food stamp benefits by 15% and provides funding to food banks, Meals on Wheels and other food aid. Provides an equal amount ($13 billion) in aid to farmers and ranchers.
  • Expanded Pell Grants for college tuition, which would reach 500,000 new recipients and provide the maximum benefit for more than 1.5 million students
  • Provides $10 billion to the Child Care Development Block Grant to help families with child care costs and help providers cover increased operating costs.
  • $7 billion for broadband internet access, including $1.9 billion to replace telecom network equipment that poses national security risks
  • $4 billion for an international vaccine alliance
  • Forgives a $10 billion loan to the Postal Service provided in earlier relief legislation
  • Contains bipartisan legislation to protect consumers from huge surprise medical bills after receiving treatment from out-of-network providers
  • Extends a variety of expiring tax breaks, including lower excise taxes of crafter brewers and distillers. Renewable energy sources would see tax breaks extended, as would motorsport facilities, and people making charitable contributions. Business meals would be 100% deductible through 2022

 

Trump did not specifically vow to use his veto power, and there may be enough support in Congress to override him if he does. 

But the consequences would be severe if Trump upends the legislation. It would mean no federal aid to struggling Americans and small businesses, and no additional resources to help with vaccine distribution. 

To top it off, because lawmakers linked the pandemic relief bill to an overarching funding measure, the government would shut down on Dec. 29.

The final text of the more than 5,000-page bill was still being prepared by Congress and was not expected to be sent to the White House for Trump’s signature before Thursday or Friday, an aide said.

That complicates the schedule ahead. If Trump vetoes the package, or allows it to expire with a “pocket veto” at the end of the year, Americans will go without massive amounts of COVID aid.

A resolution could be forced Monday. That’s when a stopgap funding bill Congress approved to keep the government funded while the paperwork was being compiled expires, risking a federal shutdown.

Democrats are considering another stopgap measure to at least keep government running until Biden is sworn into office Jan. 20, according to two aides granted anonymity to discuss the private talks.

The House was already set to return Monday, and the Senate Tuesday, for a vote to override Trump’s veto of the must-pass defense bill. Democrats may try again at that time to pass Trump’s proposal for $2,000 checks, as well as the temporary government funding measure to avert a shutdown, the aides said.

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