Matt Schlapp Urges Kennedy Center to Donate $25M Promised in Coronavirus Relief Package

American Conservative Union Chairman Matt Schlapp speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Md., Friday, Feb. 27, 2015. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

American Conservative Union (ACU) chairman Matt Schlapp said on Thursday that the Kennedy Center, which will receive a $25 million bailout as part of the $2 trillion coronavirus relief package unanimously passed by the Senate, should either return the money or “redirect it to a DC charity helping victims” of the coronavirus.

The Senate unanimously passed the historic emergency relief bill late Wednesday night after days of partisan turmoil. Both sides came to an agreement on Wednesday on a bill that, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) have indicated, differs very little from the original measure Democrats rejected on Sunday.

While the bill contains immediate relief for the American people, including cash payments, the expansion of unemployment coverage, and loans for small businesses, it also contains $25 million for the Kennedy Center for the Arts in Washington, DC.

Schlapp is calling on Kennedy Center chair David Rubenstein to take action and either “return the $25 million in the soon-to-pass Cares Act or redirect it to a DC charity helping victims.”

“Show us You care,” he added:

President Trump has admitted that the Kennedy Center’s $25 million bailout is a “lousy soundbite” but channeled the sentiment of others who note that Democrats failed to pack the final bill with the host of liberal pet projects demanded by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).

“I said, ‘That’s a lousy soundbite; that’s not a good soundbite,’ but that’s the way life works,” Trump said, noting that Democrats originally requested $35 million. He commented:

I approved that, and I knew — it was $35 million, and we actually took off 10, but I’m a fan of that, although I 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 for me than going there, but the Kennedy Center has suffered greatly because nobody can go there. It’s essentially closed, and they do need some funding.

However, Trump reiterated that the money for the Kennedy Center was not his request.

“I said, look, that was a Democrat request. That was not my request, but you’ve got to give them something. It’s something that they wanted. You know, it works that way — Democrats have treated us fairly,” he said.

“I really believe that we’ve had a very good back and forth, and I say that with respect to Chuck Schumer. I spoke to him a number of times, but they had requests also,” he added.

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