Senate

McConnell wants FBI money out of coronavirus bill

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) says he wants the $1.75 billion in funding for a new FBI headquarters in downtown Washington removed from the GOP’s coronavirus relief package.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, McConnell said he hopes that provision and other “non-germane” items will be removed from the legislation before it’s sent to President Trump’s desk.

“I am opposed to non-germane amendments, whether it’s funding for the FBI building or, for example, in the House bill, whether it’s a tax cut for high-income earners in blue states or other non-germane amendments in the House bill like marijuana studies or aid to illegal immigrants,” McConnell told reporters after GOP senators met for lunch with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, who are involved in negotiations with congressional Democrats on the COVID-19 package.

“When we get to the end of the process, I would hope all of the non-COVID-related measures are out, no matter what bill they were in at the start,” McConnell added.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) told reporters that Mnuchin and Meadows, the lead White House negotiators, pressed GOP senators to include the FBI funding in the bill.

“It was a request from the administration,” Shelby said Tuesday.

Democratic leaders suspect Trump wants to refurbish the existing FBI headquarters on Pennsylvania Avenue for personal financial gain.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told reporters the president wants to rebuild the FBI headquarters “so that nobody could build a hotel across the street” from the Trump International Hotel.

Several Senate Republicans on Tuesday questioned the decision to include funding for a new FBI headquarters in a bill focused on providing coronavirus relief.

“A couple people mentioned it. I don’t know why it’s in there,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said after attending the GOP conference lunch with Mnuchin and Meadows.

Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) said he only learned of the special funding for the FBI headquarters after reading about it in news reports.

Asked after the GOP lunch whether the earmark for the FBI headquarters would stay in the legislation, Mnuchin said, “We’re looking at everything in the bill.”

Updated at 3:49 p.m.

 

Tags Coronavirus relief package COVID-19 Donald Trump FBI FBI headquarters John Kennedy Lindsey Graham Mark Meadows Mitch McConnell Nancy Pelosi Pandemic Pennsylvania Avenue Richard Shelby Steven Mnuchin trump international hotel
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