CORONAVIRUS

Grassley encouraged by pandemic relief negotiations

In this Oct. 12, 2020 file photo, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, listens during a confirmation hearing for Supreme Court
In this Oct. 12, 2020 file photo, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, listens during a confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett before the Senate Judiciary Committee, on Capitol Hill in Washington. Grassley, the longest-serving Republican senator, says he is quarantining after being exposed to the coronavirus. Grassley is 87. He did not say how he was exposed. (Kevin Dietsch/Pool via AP)

CEDAR RAPIDS — He’s not crazy about the price tag, but Sen. Chuck Grassley continues to call for a COVID-19 relief package before the end of the year.

“We ought to be able to get something done,” Grassley said Wednesday, adding that he’s encouraged by negotiations between the White House and Democratic congressional leaders. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer have “moved off of their all or nothing position.”

The negotiations are centered on a $908 billion package, “which may be a figure that’s a little high for me, but I’m not going too worried about the figure so much as what’s in it,” Grassley told reporters.

Two sticking points are federal aid to states and cities and liability reform. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who had been demanding liability protections for businesses threatened with lawsuits during the pandemic, has suggested removing that and the Pelosi-Schumer demand for money for states and cities. The Democrats rejected that.

Grassley’s position is to either have both in the package or neither, saying “that shouldn’t keep us from moving on the rest of it.”

“There’s a great deal of agreement on dozens and dozens of issues. So what’s wrong with just moving on those and helping the people that will help?” he said.

The Senate is scheduled to be in session again next week before leaving until after the holidays.

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

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