Politics

$10 Million Earmark For ‘Gender Programs’ In Pakistan Sparks Backlash Amid Pandemic, Recession

(Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

Font Size:

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).

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.”

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.