Hours after the $2.2 trillion economic relief package was signed Friday evening, allocating millions for the Kennedy Center, musicians who work there were informed they would no longer be paid.
‘The Covid-19 Advisory Committee was broadsided today during our conversation with [Kennedy Center President] Deborah Rutter,’ an email obtained by the Washington Free Beacon from the orchestra’s Covid-19 Advisory Committee reads.
‘Ms. Rutter abruptly informed us today that the last paycheck for all musicians and librarians will be April 3 and that we will not be paid again until the Center reopens,’ it continued.
The email went out Friday shortly after the CARES Act was signed by Donald Trump to provide relief to people left unemployed or out of work due to the coronavirus pandemic.
It means that nearly 100 musicians will no longer receive paychecks after April 3, even though the stimulus bill passed includes a measure for $25 million to fund the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
The Kennedy Center will stop paying 100 of its musicians, it revealed it an email Friday, which was obtained by the Washington Free Beacon. The center is in Washington, D.C. and is adjacent to the Potomac River. It hosts performances including opera, ballet, theater and large-scale events
The move came just hours after Donald Trump signed the $2.2 trillion coronavirus economic stimulus package, which includes $25 million for funding for the Kennedy Center
The provision initially raised eyebrows from both Democrats and Republicans, but ultimately made its way in the bill with about less than $10 million than originally allocated.
The bailout for the center was designed to ‘cover operating expenses required to ensure the continuity of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and its affiliates, including for employee compensation and benefits, grants, contracts, payments for rent or utilities, fees for artists or performers.’
That relief, the organization decided, did not extend to members of its house orchestra.
‘Everyone should proceed as if their last paycheck will be April 3,’ the email says. ‘We understand this will come [as a] shock to all of you, as it did to us.
Donald Trump said Wednesday he had no problem with the Senate stimulus bill, including the $25 million measure for the Kennedy Center.
‘Well, I approved that,’ he answered when a reporter asked him about the sum, pointing out that the original number Democrats pitched was $35 million. ‘But the Kennedy Center has suffered greatly because nobody can go there, it’s essentially closed.’
On the right, the Kennedy Center example was used as a talking point by Republican lawmakers and conservative pundits as they criticized Democrats for packing the legislation with goodies, and stalling on getting valuable need to the American people.
Trump said Wednesday he was perfectly fine with Congress giving $25 million to help the Kennedy Center, which is closed due to the coronavirus outbreak
Before President Trump defended the funding conservatives like Turning Point USA’s Charlie Kirk were using it to blast Democrats for wasteful spending in the stimulus package
Even Donald Trump Jr. got into the action retweeting this message from Todd Starnes, a conservative radio show host and columnist
‘Democrats believe #coronavirus can be cured by providing $35 million in funding to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts,’ tweeted Todd Starnes, a conservative columnist and radio host, highlighting the appropriate section of the legislation.
His quip was retweeted by Donald Trump Jr.
Charlie Kirk, another conservative talking head who runs the youth group Turning Point USA also fumed about the Kennedy Center funding calling it ‘government at its worst.’
‘How many ventilators could that money buy? How many masks could that buy? How many lives could that save?’ he tweeted.
Trump, however, threw water on that political attack, by telling reporters in the press briefing room that he loved the place.
‘I’m a fan of that,’ he said of the arts center, located adjacent to the Potomac River. ‘Although we haven’t spent time there because I’m far too busy, I’d love to go there evenings, but I’m too busy doing things, because that’s more important to me than going there.’
He did note that the Kennedy Center funding ‘was a Democrat request.’
‘That was not my request,’ he said. ‘But you’ve got to give them something, it’s something that they wanted, you know it works that way,’ he said, speaking of how bills are cobbled together in the House and Senate.
Trump also told the press that he believed the Democrats treated the White House and Republicans ‘fairly.’
‘I really believe we’ve had a really good back and forth,’ he said, praising Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, by name.
Trump indicated he was also aware that he was ruining conservatives’ fun.
Trump told reporters in the briefing room Wednesday that he loved the Kennedy Center and wouldn’t mind going to see a production of Romeo and Juliet there
Former Gov. Mike Huckabee, a Trump ally, said the funding for the Kennedy Center was legitimate, but was mad that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi listed it among other ‘political’ items in the stimulus bill
‘That’s a lousy soundbite, that’s not a good soundvite, but that’s the way life works,’ he said after praising Congressional Democrats.
Trump had the backing of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, the father of his ex-press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who had tweeted in defense of the Kennedy Center funding.
‘Unlike absurd stuff in her list, [Kennedy Center] closure is covid related federal issue,’ the former governor tweeted.
Huckabee was still enraged with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, however, for grouping the Kennedy Center with those other items on her ‘political’ wishlist.
The president also praised David Rubenstein, a D.C.-based billionaire who has thrown money at large-scale projects like the Kennedy Center and fixing the Washington Monument.
‘The Kennedy Center they do a beautiful job, an incredible job, David Rubenstein does a fantastic job,’ he said. ‘But they’ve essentially closed.’
‘If I wanted to go there tonight to look at Romeo and Juliet, I’d love to see Romeo and Juliet tonight – you know what would happen? They’d say sorry 250 people or 50 people, or whatever it might be down to,’ the president said, trailing off.
To which a reporter pointed out that Trump’s coronavirus guidance said it’s gatherings fewer than 10.
WHAT’S IN THE $2.2 TRILLION ECONOMIC STIMULUS PACKAGE?
– Those laid off due to the coronavirus outbreak are guaranteed to receive four months of their full pay
– The maximum benefit from unemployment insurance will also be raised by $600 per week and those payments can last up to four months
– About $500 billion of the bill will be directed to the government sending checks to Americans earning less than $95,000 – up to $1,200 per adult and $500 per child
– $15.5 billion in additional funding for people on the food stamp program SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program)
– $8.8 billion in funding for Child Nutrition Programs to help children receive meals while schools are shut down
– $9.5 billion to farmers and livestock and dairy producers who support local food systems like farmers markets, schools, and restaurants
– $200 million for Emergency Food and Shelter Program to individuals and families
– $45 million to support families who experience domestic violence during this time of household isolation
– $221 million for corporations to improve teleworking capabilities
– A $562 million loan program for small businesses
– $10 billion to help publicly-owned, commercial airports and $1.018 billion to Amtrak
– $25 billion is provided to public transit operators, like Metro and Subway systems
– $25 million to help the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts operate and open its doors ‘once the crisis is over’
– $400 million for states to help prepare for the 2020 elections, which some speculate might need to be moved to a digital, remote format
– $100 billion in grants to hospitals, other health care facilities and centers and Medicare and Medicaid programs
– $13.5 billion for elementary and secondary schools as thousands have resorted to e-learning