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‘Chock-full of spending porn’: Sen. Kennedy slams Biden’s COVID relief bill

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Louisiana Sen. John Kennedy (R) slammed President Joe Biden’s proposed $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill on Wednesday, telling Fox News it is “chock-full of spending porn” unrelated to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This isn’t a coronavirus bill,” Kennedy said on the Fox News program “America’s Newsroom.” “This is a left-of-Lenin, neo-socialist wish list.”

“This is chock-full of spending porn,” he added, citing funding for transit projects, bridges, language preservation, and “billions for people who are in our country illegally.”

“I am for spending additional monies [sic] to combat the coronavirus,” said Kennedy, who’s on the Senate Budget Committee, “but this bill isn’t it.”

A large amount of the funding for the relief bill would not be spent until 2022 and after, one of the reasons the Louisiana Republican cited for his argument that Biden’s proposed COVID-19 relief bill is unrelated to the pandemic.

“The motto of the Biden administration seems to be: ‘We can’t spend too much,'” Kennedy said at another point in the interview, calling the administration’s approach “superficial” and “almost infantile.”

“Either that or the people advising President Biden have an opium habit,” he added.

“The objective is not to spend money–it’s not how much you spend, it’s what you spend it on,” Kennedy also said.

MORE ON SEN. KENNEDY: GOP, Dem senators confront Neera Tanden over ‘vicious’ personal attacks

Aspects of the bill have come under scrutiny from many Republicans and moderate Democrats, such as $1,400 stimulus checks for mixed-status families with undocumented immigrants; allowing Planned Parenthood to receive Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funds designed to keep small businesses afloat; and roughly $600 million for additional emergency paid family leave for federal employees and U.S. Postal Service workers, according to a Republican Study Committee memo released Monday.

One of the things that Kennedy considered mismanaged spending was the allocation of $70 billion for K-12 school funding. Only $4 billion of the $70 billion, according to Fox News, has been spent with hundreds of billions more proposed to be sent to schools in the relief bill, which is likely not to be fully spent until 2024.

Some moderate Democrats, such as Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.), have indicated they might not support the required $15 minimum wage in the bill, which throws a wrench in the Democrats’ effort to pass it with the slimmest of majorities in the Senate. For the bill to pass, all 50 Democratic senators would need to vote in favor of it and have Vice President Kamala Harris exercise her power as the tie-breaking vote.

RELATED: Sen. Sinema breaks with Democrats on $15 minimum wage

On the other side of the aisle, Utah Sen. Mitt Romney (R) blasted the “clunker” relief bill for a third of its funds–$700 billion, according to a Congressional Budget Office report–not being spent until 2024 and the inclusion of unnecessary expenses in a Wall Street Journal op-ed published Tuesday.

The bill, the Utah Republican argued, “would waste hundreds of billions of dollars, do nothing meaningful to get kids back to school, and enact policies that work against job creation.”

In response to the $15 minimum wage provision in the relief bill, Romney and Republican Sen. Tom Cotton (Ark.) on Tuesday proposed raising the federal minimum wage to $10 instead, but with the caveat that businesses would be required to use the internet-based E-Verify system designed to prevent employers from hiring undocumented workers. However, it is unclear at this point if such a proposal will garner enough support.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), according to Fox News, says he expects the relief bill will be passed in the Senate by March 14.

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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Chevron downsizes global San Fran headquarters, paying for employees to move to Texas office

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Oil giant Chevron made a huge announcement saying it will be closing its current global headquarters in San Ramon, California. Even more telling, its encouraging employees to move to Houston, Texas.

The San Francisco Gate reported “the oil company will cover relocation costs for those voluntarily leaving for the Texas office, which has been growing and employs nearly 6,000 people. Meanwhile, the San Ramon office buildings have experienced dwindling numbers in recent years.”

Although the company is not leaving the state completely, “company leadership has pushed for a permanent move to Texas in the past” adds SFGATE. Chevron, which has had “deep roots” in California going back to the late 1800s, will vacate its 100-acre campus in 2023.

The Wall Street Journal reports the business hopes to move into a smaller space in San Ramon, which will remain its headquarters. A company spokesperson told SFGATE “the current real estate market provides the opportunity to right-size our office space to meet the requirements of our headquarters-based employee population.”

“The move is expected to occur during the third quarter of 2023” they continued. “Chevron will remain headquartered in California, where the company has a 140-year history and operations and partnerships throughout the state.”

The SFGATE notes Chevron is one of “the East Bay’s legacy companies joining the trend” to move their headquarters out of the area in recent years. Tech companies such as startups like Coinbase to industry pioneers like Hewlett Packard and Oracle have all vacated, with Elon Musk having been “one particularly outspoken voice decrying California’s business conditions.”

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