Fact Check: 'New Stimulus Bill' Does NOT Include Funding For The Smithsonian, Kennedy Center And More -- That Funding Is Part Of $1.4 Trillion Government Spending Deal

Fact Check

  • by: Dana Ford
Fact Check: 'New Stimulus Bill' Does NOT Include Funding For The Smithsonian, Kennedy Center And More -- That Funding Is Part Of $1.4 Trillion Government Spending Deal 2021 Funding

Does the "new stimulus bill" include funding for the Smithsonian, Kennedy Center and more? No, that's not true: Funds for the Smithsonian and other cultural institutions were not part of the $900 billion COVID stimulus and relief package. They were part of the $1.4 trillion spending plan passed by the House and Senate to continue government operations through September 2021.

The claim appeared in an Instagram post (archived here) published on December 21, 2020. The post was a meme that read:

The New 'Stimulus' Bill Includes:

  • $1,000,000,000 (BILLION) to Smithsonian
  • $40,000,000 (million) to Kennedy Center
  • $154,000,000 (million) to National Gallery of Art
  • $167,000,000 (million) to National Foundation on Arts and Humanities
  • $14,000,000 (million) Woodrow Wilson Center

SICK TO MY STOMACH

Users on social media saw this:

The post included a link to the legislation, which runs a whopping 5,593 pages. But, contrary to what the post implied, all 5,593 pages were not part of the COVID-19 relief bill, as can clearly be seen on the table on contents. The linked legislation included the 2021 omnibus spending bill, which will fund the government through September, as well as a number of other miscellaneous items.

Together, the 2021 spending and COVID-related relief packages totaled some $2.3 trillion -- $900 billion in emergency coronavirus relief and $1.4 trillion in other government spending. Although the measures were paired for the purposes of voting, it's misleading to say that the COVID relief and stimulus package included funding for the Smithsonian, Kennedy Center and more. Funds for those cultural institutions were part of the year-end government funding deal.

A summary of the 2021 appropriations provisions can be seen here. Note that the numbers in the post are largely correct. For example, more than $1 billion was earmarked for the Smithsonian Institution; $40 million went to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts; the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars will get $14 million. Other examples include the Department of Veterans Affairs, which got a record $243 billion in discretionary and mandatory funding, and the Treasury Department, which will receive $13.5 billion.

The legislation passed both the House and the Senate with overwhelming bipartisan majorities. The House voted 327-85 and 359-53 for the two parts of the spending plan. The Senate voted 92-6 in support of the measure. President Donald Trump, who had initially been expected to sign the legislation, later spoke out against it, calling for bigger stimulus checks and describing the package as a "disgrace."

Some of the post's claims were repeated in a post published on Facebook on December 21, 2020. You can see that second post here:

Every American left and right should be calling for a #VETO of this stimulus "deal"-- which provides MORE funding to...

Posted by David McDonald on Monday, December 21, 2020

It makes the same mistake as the first post: failing to make a clear distinction between the 2021 omnibus spending package and the COVID stimulus bill. It's also misleading in that it compares the $600 stimulus check that individual Americans will receive in COVID relief (assuming the package is signed into law) with the support given to large institutions, whole countries and large government agencies. A more apt comparison may be $900 billion -- the total price tag of the COVID relief/stimulus -- lined up with the other items in the overall U.S. Government funding bill, which includes the foreign aid and arts and culture programs cited in the meme.

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Lead Stories is working with the CoronaVirusFacts/DatosCoronaVirus Alliance, a coalition of more than 100 fact-checkers who are fighting misinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about the alliance here.


  Dana Ford

Dana Ford is an Atlanta-based reporter and editor. She previously worked as a senior editor at Atlanta Magazine Custom Media and as a writer/ editor for CNN Digital. Ford has more than a decade of news experience, including several years spent working in Latin America.

Read more about or contact Dana Ford

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