The U.S. House of Representatives passed a massive $900 billion coronavirus stimulus bill on Monday evening, hours after the 5,000 plus-page legislation was released.
Based on the average reading pace, each member of Congress would have been able to read approximately 72 pages, assuming there were no pauses or breaks.
The House approved both the coronavirus aid and a $1.4 trillion full-year spending bill that will fund the government through September.
Under the bill households will receive $600 for each adult and $600 for each dependent, instead of the $1,200 and $500, respectively, they received in the first round.
For mixed-status households, where some people are even noncitizens, payments will be based on the number of eligible people in the households, as opposed to being completely excluded as they were in the first round.
The legislation also includes many hidden provisions which are completely unrelated to coronavirus. Many of the provisions appear to be the work of individual politicians attempting to appease specific lobbyists and interest groups.
The package even decriminalizes unauthorized uses of Smokey Bear, gives tax breaks to racehorse owners and bans the U.S. Postal Service from handling e-cigarettes.
More importantly it gives hundreds of millions of dollars to foreign nations.
Damn, didn’t know Sudan, Cambodia, Nepal, Burma, Pakistan & Israel all lost their jobs due to the lockdowns.
— The Columbia Bugle 🇺🇸 (@ColumbiaBugle) December 21, 2020
Here are some of the foreign countries getting a piece of the pie, paid for by American taxpayers:
- $25 Million for Pakistan gender programs
- $1.4 Billion for Asia Reassurance Initiative Act
- $250 Million in Palestinian aid
- $85 Million to Cambodia
- $135 Million to Burma
- $130 Million to Nepal
- $500 Million to Israel
- $700 Million to Sudan (Money to keep peace with Israel)
- $125 Million to Egypt (Money to keep peace with Israel)
- $120 million toward the repayment of Sudan’s debt to the International Monetary Fund.
Prison time and for creators accused of copyright infringement
The entertainment industry is poised for another major win from the pandemic with the proposed Covid-19 relief bill including increased penalties for companies that illegally stream copyrighted material.
If the 5000-page Covid-19 relief package passes, buried in there will be increased penalties for illegal streaming of movies and music that could carry up to 10 years in jail, as first reported by The Hollywood Reporter.
The controversial copyright-related amendments to the bill are listed under “TITLE II—INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY.”
The first of these amendments is “2319C. Illicit digital transmission services” which will make it illegal for a person to “willfully, and for purposes of commercial advantage or private financial gain” provide a “digital transmission service” to the public that is “primarily designed or provided for the purpose of publicly performing works protected under title 17 without the authority of the copyright owner or the law.”
Existing copyright law contains a provision for fair use that allows copyrighted material to be used without permission from the copyright holder in certain circumstances (for example, if the use is deemed to be “transformative” because it adds new expression or meaning to the original work).
‘Reincarnation of the Dalai Lama’
Section 342 of the bill outlines a “statement of policy regarding the succession or reincarnation of the Dalai Lama.” Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, currently lives in exile in India after escaping from Tibet amid a revolt against the Chinese back in 1959. Tibet was occupied by China in 1951 and incorporated as part of the East Asian nation.
The measure states that China must have no role in choosing the next Dalai Lama and that decisions on the “reincarnation of the Dalai Lama should be made solely by faith leaders.”
“Interference by the Government of the People’s Republic of China or any other government in the process of recognizing a successor or reincarnation of the 14th Dalai Lama and any future Dalai Lamas would represent a clear abuse of the right to religious freedom of Tibetan Buddhists and the Tibetan people.”
The bill adds that the U.S. government has the right to implement sanctions against Chinese officials who interfere in the succession process.
“The Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom should support efforts to protect and promote international religious freedom in China and for programs to protect Tibetan Buddhism in China and elsewhere,” it says.
Creation of Latino and Women’s History Museums
The massive year-end deal that is supposed to fund the government and provide coronavirus relief, will also establish a National Museum of the American Latino and American Women’s History Museum as part of the Smithsonian Institution.
“Building a Smithsonian Women’s History Museum, a testament to the women who helped build and shape this nation, has been years in the making and I am thrilled that we are finally set to pass this historic legislation,” Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), who sponsored the House version of the women’s history museum bill, said in a statement Monday.
🚨 BREAKING 🚨 My bill to create a National @LatinoMuseum was included in the final annual spending bill that Congress is expected to pass today!
This is a big win for Latinos all across our country. We will finally have a Latino Museum that elevates our stories & history. pic.twitter.com/8wkjBc7Mnu
— Senator Bob Menendez (@SenatorMenendez) December 21, 2020
“For too long, women’s stories have been left out of the telling of our nation’s history, but with this vote, we begin to rectify that. Americans of all ages deserve to see and be inspired by the remarkable women who helped shape this nation – seeing role models doing the thing to which we aspire, can change the course of someone’s life,” said representative Maloney.
I’m about to lose my house. My business is pretty much done. Can’t and afford food. Can’t find work. But thanks for that $600. I’ll be sure to get the nicest tent available when I’m homeless. At least Sudan will be thriving and the senate offices remodeled, right?
— Carolina (@dots_po) December 22, 2020
The government forced you to shut down your business, forced your kids to stay home from school, forced millions of Americans into facing eviction – all for a virus that has an infection fatality rate that is on-par with influenza – and now they are sending you a check which won’t even pay for one month of your back rent.
And it won’t even come in time for Christmas.