The Senate GOP's proposal for the next round of pandemic relief legislation, called the HEALS Act, received criticism from Republican senators who voiced concern about the inclusion of close to $2 billion to construct a new FBI headquarters.
The proposal stands for health, economic, assistance, liability protection, and schools. The details of the plan, according to the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) remarks on the Senate floor, include $1,200 direct payments similar to the CARES Act, a sequel to the Payment Protection Program (PPP) to help small businesses, more funding for schools, and a liability shield for hospitals, businesses, and other entities. Treatment, testing, and vaccines funding will also be included.
However, the provision that is drawing criticism is for funding the design and construction of a new District of Columbia headquarters for the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), a member of Republican leadership, argued that the funding should instead go through the annual government funding bills.
Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) added that he just didn't "get it."
"I mean, how's it tied to coronavirus?" he questioned.
Republicans directed reporters to the White House for answers on why the construction of the FBI building’s funding was included in the new relief legislation.
When reporters questioned McConnell about the inclusion of the FBI funding in the bill he seemed surprised and had to verify that the funding allocation was really there.