Monday, December 25, 2023

House Republicans Demand Rollback of Pandemic Slush Fund Spending-Rule Change; GOP Lawmakers Challenge Treasury on COVID-19 Fund Management, and other C-Virus related stories

AP Photo/Eric Gay, File
House Republicans demand rollback of pandemic slush fund spending-rule change:
Dozens of House Republicans accused the Biden administration Tuesday of illegally changing a rule that gives states and municipalities more time to spend billions in pandemic-era emergency funding, and are demanding that the change gets revoked.
In a letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, 36 lawmakers argued that the rule change was done unilaterally and failed to comply with a handful of laws, and that the change perpetuates more “wasteful spending” because of a continued lack of oversight.
The money was originally intended to support state and local recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
But the conservative lawmakers, led by Reps. Kevin Hern of Oklahoma and Ben Cline of West Virginia, contend the Treasury Department was purposefully preventing the money from being used elsewhere, despite the Biden administration declaring the pandemic’s end in May.
“It is abundantly clear that Treasury is attempting, through this immediately effective and final rulemaking, to wall off money from Congress as we seek offsets to new federal expenditures,” the lawmakers wrote.
The lawmakers called the effects of the rule change “staggering” and listed a series of laws that the tweak violates, including the Congressional Review Act, the Anti-Deficiency Act, and the American Rescue Plan, which authorized the funding in 2021.
The letter from the House Republicans follows a similar letter from six Republican senators, who threatened that they would “have no choice” but to try and reverse the policy under the Congressional Review Act if the Biden administration does not change course. --->READ MORE HERE
GOP Lawmakers Challenge Treasury on COVID-19 Fund Management:
In a bold move, Congressman Ben Cline (R-VA), Chairman of the Republican Study Committee’s (RSC) Budget and Spending Task Force, along with RSC Chairman Kevin Hern (R-OK), and 34 other Congressional members, have sent a strongly-worded letter to U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. The correspondence demands the Treasury Department withdraw an Interim Final Rule (IFR) that extends the use of unspent COVID-19 funds from the 2021 American Rescue Plan (ARP).
The IFR allows state and local governments to obligate COVID funds past the original December 31, 2024, deadline by submitting a spending plan by April 30, 2024. This rule has been criticized by the GOP lawmakers for failing to comply with congressional statutes and potentially leading to further inflation and wasteful government spending.
Brittany Madni, Executive Vice President of the Economic Policy Innovation Center (EPIC), echoed these concerns. EPIC supports the letter, asserting that the Biden Administration’s handling of the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund (SLFRF) reflects government waste and a critical opportunity for taxpayer savings. The EPIC criticizes the Treasury’s new Hoarding Rule for allowing states to reserve funds for later unspecified uses.
The letter lists examples of what the signatories consider inappropriate uses of SLFRF funds, ranging from golf course improvements to funding for sports stadiums and entertainment venues. The GOP representatives argue that such expenditures stray from the fund’s original purpose of supporting COVID-19 response and recovery.
As the Biden Administration approaches its final year of the first term, the letter raises questions about the political deployment of these funds. With approximately $152 billion of the SLFRF still unobligated, the letter urges the Treasury to exercise care in managing the program. --->READ MORE HERE
Follow links below to relevant/related stories and resources:

“Viral Reservoirs” Uncovered: COVID-19 Lurks in Lungs for up to 18 Months

Pfizer Loses $12.93 Billion as COVID Vaccines Stall

USA TODAY: Coronavirus Updates

WSJ: Coronavirus Live Updates

YAHOO NEWS: Coronavirus Live Updates

NEW YORK POST: Coronavirus The Latest

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