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GOP Rep. Introduces Bill to Rescind $25 Mil Coronavirus Bailout after Kennedy Center Lays Off Employees

The U.S. Capitol Building as seen ahead of a vote on the coronavirus relief bill on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., March 25, 2020 (Tom Brenner/Reuters)

Representative Bryan Steil (R., Wisc.) on Tuesday introduced a bill to rescind $25 million granted to the Kennedy Center as part of Congress’s coronavirus relief package, following news of layoffs among the Center’s staff and musicians.

The Kennedy Center plans to furlough 60 percent of its staff on a rolling basis, RealClearPolitics reported on Tuesday, and has already laid off 475 part-time staffers. Hours after President Trump signed the relief package into law, the Center announced it would lay off the musicians of the National Symphony Orchestra, the Washington Free Beacon reported on Friday.

“After this passes and you find out that the Kennedy Center is laying people off–that’s almost the icing on the cake,” Steil told the Daily Caller. The bill has 15 cosponsors including Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R., La.).

“[House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi literally held the bill up for days to get her pet projects… Interesting she’d use the choice of words, ‘fiddlers,’ because it was the fiddlers, the violin players, all the musicians at the Kennedy Center that got laid off,” Scalise said on Fox News on Tuesday. Scalise was referring to comments by Pelosi on Sunday, in which the speaker said that while President Trump “fiddles, people are dying.”

Meanwhile, musicians in the orchestra will receive their last paychecks for the foreseeable future on April 3.

“It’s very disappointing [that] they’re going to get that money and then drop us afterward,” one musician told the Free Beacon. “The Kennedy Center blindsided us.”

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Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.

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