In spite of — or because, maybe — the Senate reached and passed a bipartisan bill on Wednesday for a $2 trillion economic stimulus package over the coronavirus, a chorus of ride-or-die Republicans just couldn’t seem to contain themselves from chiming in with their objections to it.
In the most recent case, the complaining was coming from Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, one of the president’s most loyal yes-men who goes hard for his Party no matter how incorrect he is about whichever metaphorical hill he always seems to end up dying on. Unlucky for him, this time around California Sen. Kamala Harris was waiting for him at the top of that hill; and she was ready.
Gaetz took umbrage over the fact that $13 million of the $2 trillion was earmarked especially for Howard University, a historically Black college (HBCU) that Harris just happened to graduate from.
“$13,000,000 in taxpayer funds could be going to families across the nation struggling to put food on the table in the midst of COVID-19,” Gaetz tweeted in apparent resentment on Wednesday afternoon. “Instead, it’s going to Howard University.” Gaetz posted a photo of the passage in the legislation’s language and circled it in red ink as if to sound some type of alarm.
“Education is important- but a $13 million check to Howard does not belong in COVID-19 relief,” he ended his misguided Twitter rant with.
$13,000,000 in taxpayer funds could be going to families across the nation struggling to put food on the table in the midst of COVID-19.
Instead, it’s going to Howard University.
Education is important- but a $13 million check to Howard does not belong in COVID-19 relief. pic.twitter.com/uIT6yaTMUo
— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) March 25, 2020
Someone must have told Harris about Gaetz’s failed attempt at Twitter because she logged on to the social media app a few hours later and properly schooled him on her HBCU — and the stimulus package that she and her colleagues in the Senate passed earlier n the day.
“The bill provides $30 billion to protect students and help schools, colleges and universities combat the coronavirus. This is $13 million,” she tweeted, breaking it down in hopes that the congressman could fully understand what exactly he’s condemning. “$13 million = .04% of $30 billion,” she added. Given that it was such a small percentage of not just the overall stimulus package but also the money allocated for education, Harris couldn’t help but to ask an obvious question: “Why do you take issue with money going to Howard, Congressman?”
The bill provides $30 billion to protect students and help schools, colleges and universities combat the coronavirus. This is $13 million.
$13 million = .04% of $30 billion
Why do you take issue with money going to Howard, Congressman? https://t.co/7nyaijShhd
— Kamala Harris (@SenKamalaHarris) March 26, 2020
As fate would have it, Gaetz — who has been accused of posting at least one racist tweet before — had not answered Harris as of late Wednesday night. But someone else did.
Gillian Brockell, a reporter for the Washington Post, came armed with her own set of facts for Gaetz after Harris called him out. Brockell corrected Gaetz’s tweet for him while also suggesting he should have known the truth — Howard is a federally chartered university that is rightfully owed emergency funding because Congressional appropriations fund the school, which, by the way, also runs Howard University Hospital, a top-notch medical facility consistently ranked among the best in the nation.
“Howard University has a hospital that has been designated one of DC’s covid-19 treatment facilities,” Brockell tweeted matter of factly. “It is located 2.1 miles from Rep. Gaetz’s workplace.”
Howard University has a hospital that has been designated one of DC’s covid-19 treatment facilities. It is located 2.1 miles from Rep. Gaetz’s workplace. https://t.co/hsu8sTGUc1
— Gillian Brockell is social distancing (@gbrockell) March 26, 2020
Later, Howard University tweeted some timely facts of its own.
HU Facts: Howard University operates a world-class medical simulation center, 6,000 square foot state-of-the art simulated learning environment, offering resources to advance a comprehensive healthcare education program. pic.twitter.com/sCzTaSotw5
— Howard University (@HowardU) March 26, 2020
History Lesson: In 1926 Congress passed a federal law guaranteeing that Howard University receives annual appropriations. In fact we are 1 of 2 non military schools to receive annual appropriations. The $13 mil is going to HU and our Hospital, a #COVID19 treatment center. https://t.co/G0hXp0kr76
— HU College Democrats (@hucollegedems) March 26, 2020
Following his false assertion on Twitter, Gaetz went on Fox News and complained about the $350,000,000 for “Migration and Refugee Assistance” also in the stimulus package.
Earlier Wednesday, Tim Scott, the only Black Republican U.S. senator, made it very clear that he had a problem with the legislation’s language over unemployment benefits, insisting the package “incentivized” being laid off.
Gaetz and the rest of the House could vote on the stimulus package by Thursday.