President Donald Trump is insisting that Congress allocate nearly $400 million in federal funding for what is being called a “modernization” of the White House, according to the Associated Press (AP):
“The Trump administration wants $377 million in the next coronavirus relief bill for a long-delayed modernization of the West Wing, but the timetable for construction is yet to be determined.
“The sum, included in the draft aid legislation from Senate Republicans, would also cover a new security screening facility for the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in the White House complex.”
Additionally, Trump has also told lawmakers that it should spend more than $1 billion for a new FBI headquarters in the nation’s capital, but many in Congress say such a request is unrealistic in the middle of an economic downturn and probably won’t be included in a second coronavirus relief package.
The White House, it should be noted, has not undergone a modernization since 1933. But to do so as the country is facing a major financial crisis — including millions of unemployed Americans facing life without expanded unemployment benefits and the stark reality of many people being evicted from their residences because they’re unable to pay their rent or mortgage — would seem to be the height of callousness.
Minor renovations to the White House were undertaken in 2017, the AP notes, and included:
“Cosmetic and furniture changes and air conditioning upgrades, over a two-week period in 2017. Officials said substantial work remains, including necessary work on electrical and information technology infrastructure and unspecified security improvements.”
On Capitol Hill, House and Senate negotiators have so far been unable to reach a compromise on a second coronavirus relief bill, with Republicans calling for a reduction in the $600 a week enhanced unemployment benefits. The GOP wants to cut those benefits to $200 a week, arguing that the larger benefit encourages workers to remain at home rather than seeking a job.
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