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Republicans Request Info from Kennedy Center on $25 Mil Grant following Layoffs

Singer John Legend attends a performance at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., September 23, 2016. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

Republican members of the House Oversight Committee on Tuesday requested information from the Kennedy Center regarding layoffs of much of its staff following a $25 million grant included in the coronavirus economic relief package (CARES Act).

“Included in the legislation, at the request of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, was a $25 million allotment to the” Kennedy Center, wrote Republican representatives led by Virginia Foxx of North Carolina. “However, the Kennedy Center now intends to furlough most of its administrative staff and more than 700 hourly and part-time employees.”

“If the Kennedy Center is required to furlough its employees, it should return a portion of money Democrats fought so hard to secure,” the letter continues.

“The intent of the Kennedy Center to furlough over 700 administrative, part-time, and hourly workers is entirely antithetical not only to the spirit of the CARES Act, but also to the expressed purpose of protecting workers with a $25 million injection,” Foxx said in a statement.

The grant has come under criticism from other Republicans as well. In late March, Representative Bryan Steil (R., Wisc.) introduced a bill to rescind the $25 million grant entirely.

“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 Wuhan coronavirus pandemic has forced numerous arts institutions and theaters to close their doors in order to enforce social-distancing measures. In addition to most of its administrative staff, the Kennedy Center announced hours after President Trump signed the CARES Act that it would lay off all the musicians in the National Symphony Orchestra.

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

Send a tip to the news team at NR.

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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