CNN anchor Poppy Harlow pressed Democratic New York Rep. Adriano Espaillat to say whether or not he was “comfortable” with the earmarked funds for non-COVID related projects included in President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill.
While discussing the bill with Espaillat on Wednesday’s edition of “CNN Newsroom,” Harlow noted that some politicians want it to be “more narrow” and not include extra money for other projects. She pointed out that two of the included items were transportation projects in New York and California. (RELATED: ‘The Swamp Is Back’: Rep. Kevin McCarthy Hammers Democrats’ ‘Expensive’ And ‘Expansive’ Relief Bill Proposals)
“There’s $1.5 million of funding toward the international bridge between New York and Canada. A bridge, and then right around San Francisco in the Bay Area, there’s $100 million to fund the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit, or BART,” Harlow said. “I mean, Steve Scalise, your Republican colleague, said ‘who said a subway to Silicon Valley has anything to do with COVID?’ Are you comfortable with those in here?”
“Look, a lot of people will get into this ‘gotcha’ attitude about this —,” Espaillat responded before Harlow interrupted him.
“I’m not ‘gotcha.’ It’s there. It’s like right here. I actually went back and read it,” she said, holding up a piece of paper she used to read about the bill.
“I’m not saying you’re doing that. I’m saying that any bill that has $1.9 trillion, there will be one line that will probably be somewhat embarrassing, right Poppy? But I tell you what —,” Espaillat said, before Harlow interrupted him again.
“So you’re saying it’s embarrassing, and that’s $101.5 million of taxpayer money and I’m just saying, are you comfortable with it?” she asked.
“No, I’m not comfortable. I’m never comfortable with it. But I tell you what I’m comfortable with. I’m comfortable with the fact that the past initiatives came from the Senate. And we had to adjust to them,” Espaillat answered. “This is the first time we have a vision that comes from us, from the House. And it’s a robust vision. I think the American people are hurting, and the country is hurting, and $1.9 trillion will get us back on the right track.”
Biden introduced his proposal for the relief bill in January before taking office. It includes billions of dollars in earmarks for various programs and local governments across the country. It’s been criticized by Republicans and Democrats over some of its details and its high cost. The final version of the bill is still being negotiated in Congress.