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Waste of the Day: $189 Billion In Pandemic Aid Can Be Used for Non-Covid Costs

The U.S. Treasury Department issued a new rule letting State and local government spend unspent pandemic funds on other programs.

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Of the $325 billion given to states and local governments to help cover costs stemming from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, less than half of that has been spent. And instead of returning the taxpayer funds to the federal government, a new law from the Department of the Treasury allows states and local governments to spend that money on essentially anything.

The law also applies to an additional $25 million given to tribal governments ($20 billion) and U.S. territories ($4.5 billion).

Waste of the Day: $189 Billion In Pandemic Aid Can Be Used for Non-Covid Costs
Waste of the Day 1.05.04 from Open the Books

Under the American Rescue Plan Act, which allocated the funds, state and local governments must obligate the funds before the end of 2024. The new rule allows governments to count funds as obligated if they are merely reported to the Treasury by April 2024.

In other words, if states and local governments and the other entities haven’t needed to spend all the money they received for pandemic relief, they can just say it’s been obligated and keep it.

The 50 states and Washington D.C. received $195 billion, and local governments received $130 billion, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

States only spent 45% of the pandemic aid ($88.2 billion) they were given, and local governments only spent 38% ($47.9 billion). That leaves $189 billion of unspent funds that can be used for whatever these governments want, including updating swimming pools, golf courses and sports stadiums at a time when the country’s national debt has exceeded $33 trillion.

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Critics have referred to it as a President Joe Biden “slush fund” that allows states and local governments to go on spending sprees with money that was supposed to be for emergency pandemic relief.

“Treasury’s ‘Hoarding Rule’ is an outright abuse of power and should be immediately reversed,” the Economic Innovation Policy Center said. “Congress should assert its intentions. Stakeholders (including taxpayers) should engage in the notice and comment period, which is set to end on December 20,2023, regardless of the rule already taking effect.”

The #WasteOfTheDay is brought to you by the forensic auditors at OpenTheBooks.com.

This article was originally published by RealClearInvestigations and made available via RealClearWire.

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Adam Andrzejewski (say: Angie-eff-ski) is the CEO/founder of OpenTheBooks.com. Before dedicating his life to public service, Adam co-founded HomePages Directories, a $20 million publishing company (1997-2007). His works have been featured on the BBC, Good Morning America, ABC World News Tonight, C-SPAN, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, USA Today, FOX News, CNN, National Public Radio (NPR), Forbes, Newsweek, and many other national media.

Today, OpenTheBooks.com is the largest private repository of U.S. public-sector spending. Mission: post "every dime, online, in real time." In 2022, OpenTheBooks.com captured nearly all public expenditures in the country, including nearly all disclosed federal government spending; 50 of 50 state checkbooks; and 25 million public employee salary and pension records from 50,000 public bodies across America.

The group's aggressive transparency and forensic auditing of government spending has led to the assembly of grand juries, indictments, and successful prosecutions; congressional briefings, hearings, and subpoenas; Government Accountability Office (GAO) audits; Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports; federal legislation; and much more.

Our Honorary Chairman - In Memoriam is U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, MD.

Andrzejewski's federal oversight work was included in the President's Budget To Congress FY2021. The budget cited his organization by name, bullet-pointed their findings, and footnoted/hyperlinked to their report.

Posted on YouTube, Andrzejewski's presentation, The Depth of the Swamp, at the Hillsdale College National Leadership Seminar 2020 in Naples, Florida received 3.8 million views.

Andrzejewski has spoken at the Columbia School of Journalism, Harvard Law School and the law schools at Georgetown and George Washington regarding big data journalism. As a senior policy contributor at Forbes, Adam had nearly 20 million pageviews on 206 published investigations. In 2022, investigative fact-finding on Dr. Fauci's finances led to his cancellation at Forbes.

In 2022, Andrzejewski did 473 live television and radio interviews across broadcast, major cable platforms, and radio shows. Andrzejewski is the author of The Waste of the Day column at Real Clear Policy. The column is syndicated by Sinclair Broadcast Group, owners of nearly 200 ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX affiliates across USA.

Andrzejewski lives in Hinsdale, Illinois with his wife Kerry and three daughters. He is a lector at St. Isaac Jogues Catholic Church and has finished the Chicago Marathon eight times (PR 3:58.49 in 2022).

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