CORONAVIRUS

Abby Finkenauer calls more coronavirus relief 'imperative'; criticizes Reynolds pandemic response

Congresswoman listens to Iowans' stories during virtual town hall

Rep. Abby Finkenauer meets with city officials July 16 in Cedar Rapids. The Democratic congresswoman held a virtual town
Rep. Abby Finkenauer meets with city officials July 16 in Cedar Rapids. The Democratic congresswoman held a virtual town hall Tuesday to hear Iowans’ stories about their struggles during the coronavirus pandemic. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

DES MOINES — Iowa Rep. Abby Finkenauer hopes to convince congressional leaders of the urgency of another coronavirus relief package by sharing stories about how COVID-19 has affected her constituents’ families, health, jobs and businesses.

After hearing from three people Tuesday night, the 1st District Democrat thanked them for sharing their stories and said she will continue to remind Washington that coronavirus relief is not just about numbers on a page.

“These are real people’s lives,” she said at the conclusion of an hourlong virtual town hall. “Our country is still struggling. We are going to get through this, but it is still going to be a long road ahead.”

Earlier, Finkenauer wrote to leaders of both chambers of Congress and both parties to share stories from across the 20-county district that includes Cedar Rapids, Waterloo, Cedar Falls and Dubuque. People told her that the $1,200 economic stimulus check and $600-a-week federal unemployment supplements were “lifesavers.”

She also heard from people who were unemployed because their employers were ordered to shut down to help slow the spread of COVID-19, people whose businesses were open but struggling because of reduced demand, and landlords who couldn’t make mortgage payments because tenants are unable to pay rent.

Finkenauer, who is seeking reelection, called it “imperative that we get this next package done as soon as possible.”

“It is so important right now to figure out how do we find that common ground,” she said. “It’s past time to put politics aside (because) every day we delay is a day of missed meals and unpaid bills for an Iowa family.”

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The Republican Party of Iowa agreed, but said Finkenauer is “once again doing nothing as (her) party bosses hold COVID-19 relief hostage.”

Iowans will remember that Finkenauer “stood by and watched as party bosses (House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer) played political games with their livelihoods in the midst of a global health crisis,” the Republican Party of Iowa said.

Putting politics aside didn’t extend to Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds, whom Finkenauer criticized for her handling of the pandemic after a caller expressed concern about sending children back to school.

“I continue to urge the governor to continue to listen to the experts, the scientists, the folks at the CDC,” Finkenauer said. “I am upset that we are in this position of having this conversation. If testing had been done the way it should have been done ... we would not be in this position. I’m incredibly disappointed this is still where we’re at.”

Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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Our most important Coronavirus coverage is free to the public.

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All donations are tax-deductible.