Millions from Biden’s COVID relief bill went to museum, university programs pushing social, climate justice

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Dozens of cultural and educational institutions spent millions in taxpayers dollars from President Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package to fund programs pushing social and climate justice.

The American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act, which the Democrats passed in March 2021 without any Republican support, was billed by the Democratic Party as an economic necessity for getting the country through the COVID-19 pandemic. The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), which received $135 million from the plan, announced last October that it had allocated $87.8 million in ARP funds to “nearly 300 cultural and educational institutions to help them recover from the economic impact of the pandemic, retain and rehire workers, and reopen sites, facilities, and programs.”

EPA USED COVID-19 RELIEF FUNDS FOR GRANTS PROMOTING ‘GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE,’ ‘ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE’

President Joe Biden signs the American Rescue Plan, a coronavirus relief package, in the Oval Office of the White House, Thursday, March 11, 2021, in Washington. 

However, many of the institutions were awarded grants for projects that had little to do with addressing recovery efforts from the pandemic, according to research from American Crossroads shared with and verified by Fox News Digital. 

For instance, $499,023 went to the University of Montana for multiple programs on racial justice, including a public lecture series on “racial justice, death and Indigenous knowledge.”

Another $50,000 in ARP funds went to a nonprofit organization in the Northern Mariana Islands called 500 Sails for “reopening programs that teach Indigenous canoe-building and explore pre-colonial sea life.” The same nonprofit had already received more than $14,000 from two Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans established by the CARES Act in May 2020 and February 2021.

Before an audience of nine families that are benefiting from the new Child Tax Credit, U.S. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris deliver remarks in the South Court Auditorium in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on July 15, 2021 in Washington, DC. 

Before an audience of nine families that are benefiting from the new Child Tax Credit, U.S. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris deliver remarks in the South Court Auditorium in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on July 15, 2021 in Washington, DC. 
(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The NEH also awarded $471,905 in ARP funds to the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh for the “ongoing development” of an existing exhibit on Ancient Egypt, after the museum had already received $5.8 million in PPP recovery funds in April 2021.

The Science History Institute in Philadelphia was awarded $359,097 by the NEH to create a “multiplatform project exploring the historical roots and persistent legacies of racism in American science and medicine.” The same institute previously received a $1,230,100 PPP loan on April 14, 2020.

Another $200,000 in ARP funds went to the Chicago Humanities Festival to create “six humanities programs on racial justice, gender equality, and building an inclusive society.” The group was previously awarded a total of $778,236 from two PPP loans between April 2020 and January 2021.

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A whopping $3.5 million was awarded to the nonprofit American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) for a grant program providing relief funds to colleges and universities across the country addressing “racial equity, climate change, international relations, pandemic recovery, and strengthening democracy.” Through that program, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, received a grant for its public humanities program that “advances social justice issues focused on three core tracks: public information, racial equity, and food and land justice.”

The University of Hawaii at Manoa received a grant through the ACLS program to broadcast radio messages to all Hawaiian Islands from August 2022 through May 2023 on topics such as “social justice; Native Hawaiian rights & culture; compassionate & visionary leadership; surviving internment & racism during World War II; overcoming Black prejudice in Hawai’i; surviving pandemics & natural disasters & preparing for climate change.”

President Joe Biden speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Friday, May 13, 2022, during an event to highlight state and local leaders who are investing American Rescue Plan funding.

President Joe Biden speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Friday, May 13, 2022, during an event to highlight state and local leaders who are investing American Rescue Plan funding.
(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

The department of Gender, Race and Identity at the University of Nevada, Reno, received a ARP-funded grant from ACLS for a project titled, “Community-based Knowledges and Visions for Racial, Health, and Climate Justice,” which includes “a year-long collaborative programming series involving Northern Nevada’s underrepresented communities.”

Northern Arizona University received a grant from ACLS to revitalize two undergraduate programs that focus on “climate justice, racial equity, public health, immigrant inclusion, housing affordability, and equitable food systems.” 

The American Rescue Plan is facing intensifying scrutiny for its effect on the U.S. economy. Inflation hit 8.3% in April, and some economists, including former Obama administration economic advisers, have blamed the $1.9 COVID-19 relief package for overheating the economy.

U.S. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris meet with House Democratic leaders, including  (L-R) Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-WA), Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) and other committee chairs to discuss the coronavirus relief legislation in the Oval Office at the White House February 5, 2021 in Washington, DC.

U.S. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris meet with House Democratic leaders, including  (L-R) Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-WA), Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) and other committee chairs to discuss the coronavirus relief legislation in the Oval Office at the White House February 5, 2021 in Washington, DC.
(Photo by Stefani Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images)

Rep. Ralph Norman, R-S.C., who sits on the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, said, “This is what happens when trillions of dollars are rushed through Congress without regular order, without hearings, and with no regard for the taxpayer.”

“This type of far-left spending should outrage every American, and NEH leadership owes us a detailed justification for its use of American Rescue Plan funds,” Norman said in a statement provided to Fox News Digital. “As long as Democrats control Congress, it’d be naïve to expect any meaningful oversight here. But make no mistake: after Republicans clean house in November and take the gavels in January, I expect full accountability not just on these examples, but everywhere there’s been waste and abuse of Covid funds.”

Jay Greene, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, said the examples of project grants highlighted by Fox News Digital are “doubly insulting to the American taxpayer.”

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“First, none of these projects would be supported by the average taxpayer if they were actually asked whether their hard-earned money should [be] spent on things like ‘Indigenous canoe-building’ and racial justice lectures,” Greene said in a statement. “The only way the federal government is able to get away with spending the taxpayer’s dollars on pork projects that only a handful of people want is by burying the details in a massive bill in the midst of a pandemic emergency. Policymakers shouldn’t be spending public money on anything that they and the majority of their fellow citizens wouldn’t be willing to spend their own money on.

“Second, these examples are insulting because they advance social and political values that are obnoxious to a majority of voters,” he continued. “In poll after poll, the majority of Americans reject the idea of treating people differently by race and making racial differences the central narrative about our country.”

The NEH did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment.

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