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Former House Speaker and Fox News contributor Newt Gingrich has told his fellow Americans to call their lawmakers and urge them not to insert further billions of dollars of pork barrel spending into important legislation meant to fight the effects of the coronavirus contagion.
"I think this is like being in a war: I think it was psychologically very important to get that bill passed and get it passed with 96 to 0 [in the Senate]," Gingrich said of the $2 trillion relief measure in an interview airing Sunday on "Life, Liberty & Levin."
But Gingrich, who has been forced to remain under lockdown in Italy with his wife Callista -- the U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See -- also told host Mark Levin that the legislation included pages and pages of irrelevant funding allocations that did not directly help the American people.
"I hope that we're going to see the continued movement in this kind of legislation, but I also think, because there are more bills coming in, ... every person who is upset about this bill should call their congressman, call their senators and start right now to build a fire, if you will, against any more of the pork," said Gingrich, who is also the author of the new novel "Shakedown".
The former House Speaker blasted Democrats for a provision providing $25 million in funding to the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C. President Trump has also expressed skepticism about the high-profile earmark, noting he'd love to see a show there but there is a time and a place for worrying about such things.
Gingrich claimed to Levin that the aid bill, which Trump signed into law Friday, initially cost half its eventual total before lawmakers added other provisions to it.
"I tell people that it's the ... pork in the bill that pulls the train and ultimately gets it done," he said. "I do think we had to pass a pretty big bill."
The bill passed the House by voice vote on Friday, but not before Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., enraged memberes of both parties by calling out the pork in the bill and demanding that lawmakers be forced to take a recorded vote.
Trump ripped into Massie as a "third-rate grandstander," while former Secretary of State John Kerry joked on Twitter that Massie had "tested positive for being an a--hole."
Massie told radio host Ken Matthews on the EIB Network that he hopes his actions will make leadership think twice before trying to pass another loaded spending bill without a quorum or recorded vote.
Levin added that he opened up his own radio show phone lines for hours earlier in the week and heard a veritable chorus of similar opinions to Massie's on the bill. Levin said many blue-collar workers have told him they are all in favor of the federal government issuing much-needed assistance to Americans, but maybe not at such a high price tag with other provisions in the legislation.
Gingrich told Levin that, overall, the battle against coronavirus is akin to World War II, except this time the "global problem" is being caused by the Chinese.
"If the Chinese had been honest, and if the Chinese had intervened at the beginning, I think that 95 percent of this would have disappeared," he said. "And that wasn't just my judgment: There was a British university that looked at it and said what the Chinese did dramatically expanded the problem."
"Well, then China needs to pay a price for it, doesn't it, Mr. Speaker?" asked Levin, who lauded a bill proposed by Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark, meant to goad pharmaceutical companies into moving their manufacturing out of China, preferably back to the U.S.
Gingrich responded that the U.S. must "have as a stated goal ... [that] nothing which really matters to us in terms of our national security or our health ... be manufactured in China."
"This disease came from China," Gingrich added. "This is China's fault. All of us are suffering because the dictatorship in China allowed this to happen."
Gingrich's new novel "Shakedown" is the second installment in his Mayberry & Garrett series, and leaves the pair caught in the middle of a deadly crisis with a pending nuclear bomb attack and little help from the government that sidelined them both.