House Democrat blasts constituent Kennedy Center for 250 layoffs after taking coronavirus millions

The Kennedy Center received $25 million in the $2.2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package but laid off musicians shortly after the bill's passage

Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton
Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton
(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
Last Updated:
April 6, 2020 - 11:08am

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Democratic Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton is slamming the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts over its decision to furlough musicians shortly after receiving $25 million in the recently enacted, $2.2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill.

"The Kennedy Center got the money but not the message: Pay people – musicians and staff," Holmes, a non-voting member of the House who represents the District of Columbia, tweeted Sunday. "Not your call to pick priorities over people."

Norton's tweet included the link to The Washington Post story on the issue. 

Rep. Bryan Steil (R-Wis.) has introduced a bill to "rescind" the funding.

"This is frivolous spending in the midst of a national emergency. Coronavirus requires a serious and targeted response," Steil said in a statement. "Some of my colleagues refused to allow a clean bill to move forward. The Kennedy Center spending should have never made it into the final CARES Act. We must correct this mistake."

Republican Whip Steve Scalise, the House minority whip, is a co-sponsor of Steil's bill.

“Speaker Pelosi and her allies demanded the CARES Act include $25 million for the Kennedy Center, yet just hours after President Trump signed the legislation, the Kennedy Center’s leadership shamefully stopped paying their National Symphony Orchestra musicians. This money should be rescinded and given back to the American people," the Louisiana Republican said in a statement about the bill.

"As we take further Congressional action to fight the Coronavirus’ devastating impact on families and our economy, I call on Speaker Pelosi to finally put the American people, not special interests, first," Scalise also said.

The Kennedy Center, which is closed through May 10 due to the coronavirus pandemic, announced last week it would need to furlough up to 250 musicians days after the stimulus legislation was passed.