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As the United States Senate considers an additional COVID-19 aid package, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), known as the Senate’s leading foe against government waste, is working to block spending of Iowa taxpayer dollars on wasteful items and projects.

Ernst plans to offer an amendment to the legislation to ensure any new funds are not used to pay for irrigations systems at golf courses, turf football fields, sea urchin hatcheries, marching bands, crack smoking kits, and other unrelated projects, as has been done in the past.


“The federal government has doled out trillions of dollars in ‘COVID-19 spending,’ often with little oversight and transparency, and politicians across the country have abused this money to fund unrelated pet projects on everything from golf course maintenance to marching bands and crack kits. While emergency spending at the beginning of this pandemic was necessary to protect the health, safety, and economic security of the American people, Washington wouldn’t need additional money if billions of dollars hadn’t been wasted on items that were completely unrelated to the pandemic. This effort will protect Iowa taxpayer dollars and ensure federal money is being spent responsibly,” said Senator Ernst.

Ernst’s amendment will prohibit COVID–19 relief funds made available from being spent on unrelated, wasteful projects that have no direct connection to the COVID–19 pandemic and were previously funded by other Acts, including:

  • A State’s bid to host the 2026 World Cup
  • Luxury hotels
  • Operational facility funding for the 2022 World Games
  • Golf course or cemetery irrigation system upgrades
  • Paying off financial debts of institutions, universities, or nonprofits
  • Supplier diversity programs
  • Immigrant memorial monument construction or remodeling
  • Boathouse construction
  • Council on Aging building remodeling
  • Aquarium maintenance
  • Sound barrier walls
  • Art institute upgrades
  • Marine genomics institutes
  • Creative hubs
  • Basketball hall of fame
  • Art festivals
  • Municipal anniversary celebrations
  • Stimulus payments to deceased people
  • New turf for athletic fields
  • Floor polishing machines
  • Commissary snacks
  • Disposable sporks
  • Firearm simulators
  • Advertising agencies
  • Weed eaters
  • Lawn mowers
  • Tractors
  • Auto repairs
  • Horse feed
  • Golf course construction
  • State-of-the-art sports performance and media complexes
  • Tennis court upgrades
  • Locker room upgrades
  • Baseball field drainage systems
  • Sea urchin hatcheries
  • The planting and growing of trees
  • Walkways at zoos
  • Fire hydrants and trash cans
  • Water infrastructure
  • University sports facilities
  • Crack smoking kits
  • Snowmaking machinery
  • Marching bands
  • Swag bags

For text of the amendment, click here.

In her December 2021 Squeal Award, Ernst highlighted unrelated projects funded by the CARES Act and called out the Department of Treasury for failing to properly police those who were improperly spending taxpayer dollars.

Author: Joni Ernst

Joni Ernst, a native of Red Oak and a combat veteran, represents Iowa in the United States Senate.

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