Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Debt-Limit Bill Cancels Almost $30 Billion in Pandemic Relief Funding; Former Connecticut Lawmaker to be Sentenced for Coronavirus Aid Thefts, and other C-Virus related stories

Photo: Patrick Semansky/Associated Press
WSJ: Debt-Limit Bill Cancels Almost $30 Billion in Pandemic Relief Funding:
a deal between President Biden and congressional Republicans to lift the debt ceiling claws back billions of dollars in unspent pandemic relief funding but leaves money in place for front-line Covid-19 investments such as next-generation vaccines and testing.
Almost $30 billion in unspent funding approved during the pandemic will be rescinded under the legislation, which passed the Senate Thursday and is headed to Biden’s desk, but most of that is unrelated to Covid-19. Instead, it will be taken from a host of agencies that have been looking at spending the money on such programs as highway infrastructure, disaster loans, and rural broadband expansion, according to people familiar with the deal.
The agreement leaves in place billions in planned spending for Covid-19 measures, veterans health benefits, the Indian Health Service, and low-income rental assistance.
The pandemic triggered a spending wave as the country wrestled with developing a vaccine and rolling it out nationally, economic malaise and the shut down of businesses to combat the virus. Lawmakers passed six spending bills totaling about $4.6 trillion.
Almost all pandemic funding that was available before the 2021 passage of the American Rescue Plan, a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus bill, has been exhausted, according to the Office of Management and Budget.
The public health emergency expired on May 11, and deaths have declined by more than 95% since January 2021.
With the virus’ impact waning, Republicans have sought to rescind some unspent pandemic funding. The Biden administration initially resisted that effort, in part because officials were worried it could hurt efforts to combat Covid-19 and because they want more pandemic funding from Congress for the development of next-generation vaccines and therapeutics. --->READ MORE HERE
Jessica Hill/Hartford Courant via AP
Former Connecticut lawmaker to be sentenced for coronavirus aid thefts
A former Connecticut state representative is scheduled to be sentenced Wednesday for stealing more than $1.2 million from the city of West Haven - most of it in federal coronavirus-related aid - and using a good chunk of it to fuel his gambling addiction.
Michael DiMassa, 32, a West Haven Democrat, could get more than four years in prison under federal sentencing guidelines. He is asking Judge Omar Williams for leniency.
“Mr. DiMassa suffered from a debilitating gambling addiction at the time of the offense,” his lawyer, John Gulash, wrote in a court filing, “and his essentially unfettered access to a deep pool of federal funds and total lack of impulse control facilitated his precipitous downward spiral.”
The lawyer compared DiMassa to Howard Ratner, the gambler played by Adam Sandler in the movie “Uncut Gems.” He said he bet on things as frivolous as how long the national anthem would take to perform at the Super Bowl, or what color Gatorade would be poured on the winning coach.
He did much of his gambling and betting at the Mohegan Sun casino in eastern Connecticut.
At the time of the thefts, which began in mid-2020, DiMassa was both a state representative and an aide to the West Haven City Council with authority to approve reimbursements for coronavirus-related expenses. He pleaded guilty in November to three counts of wire fraud conspiracy, admitting that he and others billed West Haven for legal, lobbying and consulting services that were never provided. --->READ MORE HERE
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WSJ: Coronavirus Live Updates

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