A federal watchdog is investigating whether Florida’s migrant flight was aided by Covid-19

A federal watchdog is investigating whether Florida improperly tapped coronavirus aid to fly immigrants to Martha’s Vineyard, part of a broader government investigation into states that funneled their pandemic dollars toward controversial immigration crackdowns.

Inspector General for the Treasury Department, last week Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and confirmed his new interest in a letter to members of Congress. ) “violates federal law.”

Federal Covid aid helped pay for migrant flights to Florida

About a month after Florida flew dozens of migrants, including children, from Texas to Massachusetts, the Republican-led state is the latest example of sending immigrants to Democratic-leaning communities.

DeSantis said he would tap $12 million in funding from the state’s latest budget to pay for the flights. But that money came from more than $8 billion in interest that Florida received under the last federal stimulus package, known as the American Recovery Plan, the Washington Post reported as part of its annual investigation. The The covid money trail.

This approach immediately generated legal controversy, not least because the planes originated in Texas. It also raised new questions about the state of stimulus oversight in Washington, where Congress has given local governments great latitude to spend their appropriations as they see fit. The Treasury Department said it would leave the door open for Florida’s maneuver, which would allow states to use the interest generated on that money when it’s not spent.

Asked about the investigation, the White House referred the matter to the Treasury Department, which declined to comment. Its inspector general confirmed the letter but declined to comment. Spokesmen for DeSantis did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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The covid money trail

It’s the largest emergency spending in US history: two years, six laws and more than $5 trillion aimed at breaking the deadly grip of the coronavirus pandemic. This money saved the US economy from ruin and put vaccines in the arms of millions, but it also invited unprecedented levels of fraud, abuse and opportunism.

In a year-long investigation, The Washington Post follows the Covid money trail to find out what happened to that money.

Read more

The probe into spending in Florida is just the latest to target federal aid in Republican-led states. High Comptroller of the Treasury Department announced earlier As The Post first reported earlier this year, it will review whether Texas acted improperly when it used a different budget measure to take advantage of federal coronavirus relief funds to ease the costs of border enforcement.

In both cases, the studies involved emergency federal programs that give local governments greater flexibility to respond to public health and economic needs. Repeatedly, GOP leaders have funneled the money to unrelated causes Political pet projects – Since building a prison in Atlanta Following tax cuts in Florida and elsewhere — would, at the very least, defy the spirit of congressional relief efforts.

How federal pandemic aid helped Texas pay for its border crackdown

In Florida, critics described the approach as wasteful, arguing that federal money could have been better used to improve local education, improve hospitals or help low-income people. In Massachusetts, where Florida sent migrants, Markey and other Democratic lawmakers, including Reps. Seth Moulton and Ayanna Presley, described the flights as a “political stunt” that they said “runs counter to the intent of Congress.”

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“While this provision is designed to provide flexibility to state and local governments, Congress does not intend to allow or authorize state governments to use SLFRF funds for immigration enforcement,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter to the inspector general last month. Study. SLFRF stands for State and Local Financial Recovery Funds, a $350 billion program under the US Recovery Program that provided Florida with the money in question.

The Treasury Department’s chief watchdog responded Friday, agreeing in a letter to request “more detailed analysis” from the agency about its guidelines.

“We will generally review the authorization to use SLFRF funds related to immigration and confirm whether interest earned on the SLFRF has been used by Florida in connection with immigration activities and, if so, what conditions and limitations apply to such use,” Richard wrote. K. Delmar, Deputy Inspector General.

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