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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

Photo by Mc Connell Center/ CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell released the GOP's coronavirus relief bill, which would slash unemployment benefits to millions of laid-off workers by two-thirds but adds billions in unrelated spending, including nearly $30 billion in additional military spending.

The bill would cut weekly unemployment insurance to the more than 30 million laid-off workers from $600 per week to $200 per week — which economists say could lead to more hardship for tens of millions of jobless Americans.

But it adds another $29.4 billion for Defense Department spending, according to a summary of the bill from Senate Finance Committee Chair Richard Shelby. That includes at least $7 billion for military equipment, including fighter jets and military ships, according to Congressional Quarterly's John M. Donnelly.

Also included in the bill is an additional tax deduction for businesses for meal and entertainment costs that economists say will not help the struggling economy, as well as $1.75 billion to build a new FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C. — a project Donald Trump has been pushing, the Washington Post reported.

The unrelated spending was panned by Congressional Democrats, who have been working to pass a coronavirus relief bill that would extend added unemployment benefits for months.

The Democratic-controlled House, for its part, passed its own bill on May 15 that would extend the $600 weekly unemployment boost through the rest of the year. But Republicans refused to work with that legislation, ultimately waiting so long to release their bill that the $600 weekly unemployment insurance boost had no chance of being renewed.

"Senate Republicans just put a provision to spend nearly $2 billion of taxpayer funds on a new FBI building across the street from the Trump International Hotel in their PANDEMIC RESPONSE bill. Flagrant corruption does not cure COVID-19," Rep. Don Beyer, a Virginia Democrat who's been sounding the alarm about the expiration of the unemployment benefits, tweeted.

Rep. Chuy Garcia (D-IL) also criticized Republicans for adding unrelated military spending in the legislation.

"The @SenateGOP called the #HeroesAct a left wing wish list for providing real relief for struggling families. But they just proposed a bill with $686 million for new fighter jets," Garcia tweeted, referencing the bill Democrats passed in May. "Last time I checked #F35s don't help families pay their bills. Their hypocrisy is unbelievable."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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