The nearly $2.5 trillion spending bill passed by Congress on Monday includes $10 million for “gender programs” in Pakistan, sparking backlash amid ongoing economic hardship caused by lockdowns and associated pandemic policies.
“Of the funds appropriated under title III of this Act that are made available for assistance for Pakistan, not less than $15,000,000 shall be made available for democracy programs and not less than $10,000,000 shall be made available for gender programs,” reads the spending bill, which outlines approximately $1.4 trillion in government spending.
The same bill provides a further $900 billion specifically for coronavirus relief. If the bill is cleared by President Donald Trump, Americans can expect to receive a one-time $600 stimulus check for each person making under $75,000 annually. Additional benefits include an extension of enhanced unemployment benefits, an eviction moratorium through Jan. 31, $25 billion in rental assistance and $13 billion in Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) funding, NPR reported.
With an unemployment rate of 6.7% and millions of Americans struggling to get by, a number of conservatives online were quick to criticize the foreign aid. (RELATED: Ted Cruz Says He Agrees With Ocasio-Cortez, Argues COVID-19 Relief Package Was Rushed)
“$10,000 for ‘gender programs’ in Pakistan. $600 for the hardworking American, who’s a waiter/waitress in DC, and who starting tomorrow will be out of a job until Jan. 15 – probably longer. No words,” tweeted Billy McLaughlin, the Digital Director for the National Rifle Association (NRA).
$10,000,000 for “gender programs” in Pakistan.
$600 for the hardworking American, who’s a waiter/waitress in DC, and who starting tomorrow will be out of a job until Jan. 15 — probably longer.
— Billy McLaughlin (@BillyNRA) December 22, 2020
In the Covid “stimulus package” there is:
✅$700 million to Sudan
✅$10 million for “gender programs” in Pakistan
✅$300 million for fisheries
✅$600 to *some* Americans
The Founders would have stormed the chambers of Congress over this monstrosity.
— Young Americans for Liberty (@YALiberty) December 21, 2020
$700 million for Sudan
$10 million for Pakistani gender programs
Both hotbeds of terror
You got $600 of your own money back.
Establishment Ds and Rs are vile stains on America.
— John Cardillo (@johncardillo) December 22, 2020
YOUR TAX MONEY WHILE YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO WORK IS GOING TO PAKISTAN FOR “GENDER PROGRAMS”?!?! pic.twitter.com/cBPc3IikyE
— Graham Allen (@GrahamAllen_1) December 22, 2020
Republican Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz also criticized the bill.
“Congress should get the economy open in America before getting gender programs funded in Pakistan. The Uniparty that writes these bills is America Last to the core.”
Congress should get the economy open in America before getting gender programs funded in Pakistan.
The Uniparty that writes these bills is America Last to the core. https://t.co/deQGIkuDgJ
— Matt Gaetz (@mattgaetz) December 22, 2020
The legislation does not explicitly state what “gender programs” entail, but the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) says it works with the impoverished nation to “improve women’s access to economic opportunities, increase girls’ access to education” and to help combat gender-based violence.
USAID provides legal help, counseling services and healthcare to thousands of women in Pakistan, according to their website.