Mitch McConnell Ditches Trump After Hotel Grift Exposed

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As members of Congress continue to negotiate over the provisions of a planned Coronavirus relief bill, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has indicated that he wants to see one particularly controversial provision — money to construct a new FBI headquarters in D.C. — taken out of the bill. According to Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), the FBI building money was initially included in the Senate GOP’s Coronavirus relief package at the direct request of the Trump administration. Democratic leaders have been concerned that the inclusion was motivated by potential financial gain for the president — the D.C. headquarters of the FBI is adjacent to Trump’s D.C. hotel, and keeping the FBI in the spot could prevent a competing hotel from going up that could affect Trump’s business.

The money designated for the FBI building in the original Coronavirus relief legislation stands at $1.75 billion. Meanwhile, on Tuesday, after a meeting between Republican Senators, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, McConnell told reporters:

‘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. 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.’

To be clear — financial support for undocumented immigrants is not unrelated to the Coronavirus crisis, despite McConnell’s claims. They’re not magically spared from the effects of the pandemic just because of their undocumented status. Still, McConnell’s break with the White House over including money for the FBI building is notable, and it represents a potential point of contention as negotiations proceed.

Mnuchin only gave a vague answer when reporters asked him after the Tuesday lunch whether the FBI building money would stay in the bill. He commented:

‘We’re looking at everything in the bill.’

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is among those who have been blunt in their condemnations of the FBI building money ever getting included in the first place. After a Monday meeting with Mnuchin, she exclaimed to reporters:

‘They don’t have money for food stamps, but they have money for an FBI building just so that they can diminish competition for the president’s hotel.’

Schumer told reporters on the same day:

‘They managed to have enough money for $2 billion for the FBI headquarters that benefits Trump hotel, and they say they have no money for food assistance. What the heck is going on?.. We just found out [the FBI building money] was in [the bill] as we read it.’

While Republicans in Congress haggle over whether or not to include a huge sum of money that could financially benefit the president, Americans are struggling. A $600 a week add-on to unemployment benefits is expiring at the end of July, while observers estimate that millions of Americans across the country are facing possible eviction amidst the pandemic-related economic upheaval.