CORONAVIRUS

Grassley: Economic impact of COVID-19 'worse than 9/11'

Senator says another aid package is in the works

Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley is pictured in Washington, D.C. in October 2017. (photo supplied by Grassley press office)
Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley is pictured in Washington, D.C. in October 2017. (photo supplied by Grassley press office)

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley said Monday the coronavirus crisis is “worse than 9/11” in its deadliness and power of disruption.

A spokesman for him later clarified the senator was speaking to the virus’ economic impact.

“This is going to be a bigger economic problem” than the Sept, 11, 2001, terror attacks, said Grassley, a Republican in his seventh term.

He told reporters it’s possible society is overreacting to the pandemic. “But I’d rather overreact than underreact and have more people die,” Grassley said.

President Donald Trump has signed a bipartisan $8.3 billion bill to tackle the coronavirus, and the Senate is poised to imminently take up a “phase two” bill passed by the U.S. House after negotiations with the White House.

“This would help Americans with nutritional assistance, paid and medical leave, unemployment insurance, tax credits for businesses, testing for the virus and funding our efforts to combat the virus,” Grassley said about the phase-two bill.

Grassley said he’s already begun discussing plans for a “phase three” package, which he said would likely be some form of economic stimulus. Sen. Mitt Romney, a Utah Republican, made headlines Monday by suggesting one way to stimulate the economy would involve giving American adults $1,000.

“At this point, everything’s on the table,” Grassley said.

Grassley, 86, also had a message for people skeptical about the virus’s deadliness: “Take it more seriously.”

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Young people, he said, “may not get it, or if they do have it, it might not be very serious for them, unlike someone my age. And why would they want to spread something around?”

Noting the hardships for small business, Grassley said lawmakers are working on getting faster aid.

“There’s provisions that a small business can be reimbursed, but maybe it’ll take three to six months to get them reimbursed. And then in the meantime, they go into bankruptcy, or they might go out of business,” Grassley said about the phase-two bill. “So we’re trying to find a way to get help to them sooner.”

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