Rep. Bryan Steil, R-Wis., on Wednesday slammed the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts for furloughing roughly 60% of its full-time administrative staff and more than 700 part-time employees and musicians after it received $25 million from the $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief fund.
Steil introduced legislation Tuesday to reclaim the funds. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., sent a letter to the Office of Management and Budget Acting Director Russ Vought urging the administration to freeze the money by submitting a rescission request to Congress under section 1012 of the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act.
"The priority in the CARES act should be making sure workers who, through no fault of their own, are having to be at home, aren't getting paid," Steil said Wednesday during an appearance on Newsmax TV's "Spicer & Co." "We need to make sure they cover their rent, cover their mortgage and pay their grocery bill.
"What's so appalling about this is that a small group of influential people got a sweetheart deal for a theater here in Washington, D.C., and they got to skip to the front of the line while every other business that has workers in Wisconsin and across the country is at the back of the line. This shouldn't have been a sweetheart deal for the Kennedy Center in the first place and the bitter icing on the cake is that after getting $25 million dollars, they started laying off their employees."
The Kennedy Center, an entity of the federal government, in numbers released Tuesday said $22 million of the $25 million would be designated for employee compensation, benefits, and artists' contracts and fees. The rest of the money would go toward a deep cleaning of the facility, rent, and IT help for its new teleworking system and other expenses.
"We should be protecting workers who are struggling right now trying to pay their bills, making sure that our doctors and nurses who are on the front lines have the resources they need to address the coronavirus," Steil said. "This is beyond frustrating."
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