Today: Apr 12, 2024

Fight against COVID-19 should not be politicized

Josa Vega Contributor

During this unprecedented time for the world, it is becoming increasingly clear that the fight against COVID-19 will be looked back at as a political issue instead of public health.

With the federal government tasked with pushing us forward through this pandemic, I like to believe people are curious as to why legislators can’t seem to agree on emergency relief spending.

Be able to push personal feelings aside, especially when it comes down to the components of the relief packages. Particularly as the federal government is spending trillions of dollars on preserving the backbone of our economy.

It never ceases to amaze as a new stimulus package is announced, the news cycle is set into a frenzy of speculation and more importantly blame. It occurred when FOX News got wind of Democrats opposing the original CARES Act and when CNN heard no Republican senators were in support of the America Rescue Plan.

All three of the emergency economic relief bills passed by Congress were meant to keep the backbone of America’s economy from breaking, not for pilot programs or cutting funding to handle future costs of the packages.

In no small part thanks to the media, congresspeople continue to fight amongst themselves, creating further division within our nation’s Capitol. It is almost considered taboo to speak of this divide, especially when the ideological extremes would wholeheartedly disagree with that opinion.

But both sides of the political aisle have had their fair share of controversy when it comes down to where exactly the money is allocated, either in the form of hidden agenda items or bringing up party lines when it comes to cost.

In the most recent $1.9 trillion dollar America Rescue Plan, there were hidden agenda items within the original proposed plan by leading Democratic officials. Most likely, people are still unaware of the original draft of the bill, where there were billions of dollars set aside for two pilot bridge projects in California and New York.

According to a CNN article, “the original bill, passed by the House, included $1.425 billion in funding to help with transit rail capital projects, including the extension of the Bay Area Rapid Transit line from San Jose to Santa Clara, California… The relief package will also no longer include funding for the Seaway International Bridge in upstate New York.” The Seaway International Bridge in New York was even proposed by the Trump Administration and supported by Republican congresspeople.

People who have at least a little experience with policy writing understand this is a common practice. The ability to have a hidden agenda behind the policy you propose is how politicians function and get around any red tape that would, in any other situation, block their proposal.

While the transportation and construction jobs that would have hypothetically been created would have been positive, the Senate parliamentarian ruled against it. These projects would be started with the funding and as they are not ongoing, it was not categorized as emergency relief. Republican congresspeople also have been clearly opposed to such big spending in this third economic relief package, citing the cost being too great.

The purpose of these economic relief packages is for more money towards fighting COVID-19, helping families in need, supporting our small businesses, getting our students back to school, and returning life to some essence of normalcy: not for allowing politicians to have hidden agendas in a 600-page bill the average voter won’t read in its entirety.

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