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CEDAR RAPIDS — Election politics may do more to win approval of the trillion-dollar infrastructure package he voted for than congressional arm-twisting has — so far — accomplished, Sen. Chuck Grassley said.
The Iowa Republican has heard Democrats may bring it up for a vote before the end of the month to help win the Nov. 2 Virginia gubernatorial race.
“What I’ve heard is that the race for governor is tightening up so much against the Democrats in Virginia that maybe this administration needs to show a win in order to keep Democrats voting in that particular state,” Grassley told reporters Wednesday.
Democrat Terry McAuliffe’s lead has disappeared, according to a recent Monmouth University poll, which showed him tied with Republican Glenn Youngkin.
Grassley was among the 19 Republicans who joined Senate Democrats in passing the bipartisan infrastructure package in August. It includes $550 billion in new spending over five years to improve hard infrastructure.
Since then, however, the package has been tied up in negotiations among Democrats. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi planned a floor vote in late September, but still is working to get a majority of her caucus to support the bill. Progressives want to tie its approval to passage of a human infrastructure bill with large investment in education, health care, child care and family leave paid for with tax increases on wealthy people and corporations.
“It's pretty darn sure that said Speaker Pelosi shouldn't hold roads, bridges, locks and dams hostage,” Grassley said.
He voted for the infrastructure package because of the support it received from Iowans. The topic comes up at nearly every one of his county meetings, he said.
He also heard support from the chambers of commerce of the 10 or 12 largest Iowa cities and the Iowa Farm Bureau as well as commodity groups representing cattlemen, pork producers, and soybean and corn growers.
“Just a lot of support,” he said, “probably because our bridges, you know, are the most structurally deficient of any of the 50 states at about 23 percent of our bridges.”
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