Prisons, border walls: How Republicans are trying to spend COVID money | Job

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Chicago (AP) – When the Democratic Party passes President Joe Biden $ 1.9 trillion coronavirus relief packageRepublicans have called it a liberal “favorite project” disguised as pandemic aid.

But because Republican governors and local leaders have money on hand, they also use it for what’s on their wishlist.

The Alabama Legislature provides Use $ 400 million The state’s share in building prisons, as Governor Kay Ivy calls it, is a major problem for taxpayers. In Texas, a Republican-led county has pledged to help Gov. Greg Abbott by sending lawmakers to help police along the US-Mexico border. Resurrection Shot of former President Donald Trump’s border wall.

Elsewhere, the money has been used to earn political points or to capitalize on the party’s battle for COVID-19 precautions.

Condemns Georgia’s Liberal “Stand Up for Police and Mitigate Crime” agenda Governor Brian Kemp Announcement of a $ 1,000 bonus for paid first responders. In Wyoming, Republican legislative leaders have suggested the money could be used to pay federal fines to companies that violate Biden’s vaccine obligations.

This is probably not what supporters of the bill had in mind when Democrats approved the US bailout package along the party line in March, and some Democrats are money-abusing Republicans. I am complaining. But it’s the inevitable result of sending money with conditions to places where Washington has very different partisan ideas about how best to spend public money.

Democrats are also using cash to fund priorities such as expanding Medicaid benefits, implementing and delivering child tax credits. $ 4 billion debt forgiveness For peasants of color. In Illinois, Republicans blew up the Democrats who control the state government, donating more than $ 1 billion to Democrat-owned district investment projects and groups. This included $ 250,000 for Black Lives Matter to teach young people and $ 300,000 for the drill crews and drums and bugles on the outskirts of Chicago.

The federal aid program provided $ 350 billion to states, counties, cities and tribes. Billed like money to fight the coronavirus, it provides financial assistance to small businesses and households, replaces revenue lost by the government during the pandemic, and improves local water and sanitation and sanitation infrastructure. broadband. low. We were also able to pay bonuses to essential workers such as police officers who faced the greatest health risks.

There are clear restrictions, such as a ban on using funds for pensions and tax cuts. Attorney General of the Republic To sue. But that money was more flexible than most federal funds and had a longer spending time. The authorities say this will allow the government to face the current crisis and make more innovative and long-term investments.

The Treasury said it had received around 1,000 comments from the public on the proposed rules describing how the money is spent, including a request for clarification of eligible use. Officials said the department was monitoring spending and demanding that the government pay back misused federal dollars.

But what is seen as fighting COVID-19 and promoting economic recovery is often left to those who spend the money.

In Galveston County, Texas, the County Republican Commissioner funded $ 6.6 million out of a total of $ 27 million for security at a location about 350 miles (560 km) from the U.S. border. Mexican. Approved plans to spend. They say the money protects people from COVID-19 and other dangers posed by those who illegally enter the United States. They endorsed the disaster declaration that “special measures must be taken”. Border crossing..

“We are living in a deliberate public health and humanitarian crisis on the southern border, which the Biden administration has refused to respond to,” said Judge Mark Henry County.

So far, the county has spent $ 165,000 to send three deputy police officers and five deputy sheriffs to the border. Haitians were summoned Recently in a temporary camp after crossing the Rio Grande. Galveston County will seek a refund from the state after Texas lawmakers decide to approve the refund to the county that backs the border, spokesman Zack Davidson said.

In some places, lawmakers say the US bailout dollar, which aims to make up for lost revenue, is a fair game to use as they see fit. This is a debate between Ivy and other Republicans when a plan to use $ 400 million of Alabama’s $ 2.2 billion stake in prison building was underway at the state. Capitol. Ivy counterattacked after Democrat Jerrold Nadler of New York, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, wrote to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Tuesday to thwart a $ 1.3 billion construction project as a misuse of gold. His own letter..

“In fact, the American Rescue Planning Act allows these funds to be used to lose income, and sending letters in the last hour does not change the way the law is drafted. Build these prisons. We must have created a financially prudent plan that will cost the people of Alabama to find the solution they need with minimal cost. “

Asked about Alabama’s plans on Wednesday, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said: “I would be surprised if that was the intention of the funding.”

Democrats in the Texas parliamentary delegation want Yellen to stop Yellen from using coronavirus bailouts on the border wall. They sent a letter after Abbott announced a new, tougher plan to tackle illegal immigrants.

“The expensive monsters should not be paid directly or indirectly with the coronavirus bailouts,” the Democrats wrote.

Texas lawmakers are expected to discuss how to use some of the state’s funds during an ongoing special session.

In northwest Iowa, the Republican-led Woodbury County Supervisory Board has decided to use about $ 15 million in relief funds to cover the higher-than-expected costs of the new prison of Sioux City. Some residents said they could use their money better, but board members were told larger facilities would reduce congestion for prisoners and prevent the spread of COVID-19. Claimed to be used.

In Wyoming, Senate Republican Leader Ogden Driskill is giving conservative online publications a more creative approach to spending money on fines imposed on companies that ignore him. Offered to oppose Biden’s vaccination obligations.

“It’s clearly linked to COVID,” Driskill said.

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Associated Press editors Kim Chandler of Montgomery, Alabama, Mead Gruber of Cheyenne, Wyoming, and Paul Weber of Austin, Texas contributed to this report.

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