CORONAVIRUS

Grassley calls for more COVID relief for schools, businesses, but not for states

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, answers questions from members of a Rotary Club on Oct. 6 at Legacy Manufacturing in Marion
Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, answers questions from members of a Rotary Club on Oct. 6 at Legacy Manufacturing in Marion. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, would be more comfortable voting for a COVID-19 relief package in the $500 billion range, but said Wednesday he could back another round of pandemic relief if the price tag was less than $1 trillion.

Grassley, who returned to the Capitol this week after testing positive for COVID-19 and isolating for two weeks, continued to call for another COVID-19 relief package before the end of the year.

Noting that more than 1,000 Americans die from COVID-19 each day and more are hospitalized, the Iowa Republican told reporters Congress must pass “long-overdue” relief “to help families, businesses, schools and our communities get through the crisis.”

He thinks there is bipartisan support for many measures in various proposals, including the $908 billion plan offered by a bipartisan group of moderates.

“There’s all just a multitude of things that have bipartisan support,” Grassley said, “and I don’t see why we can’t at least pass what we agree on.”

Asked about Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds’ call Tuesday for Congress to provide more relief for small businesses and Iowans suffering from COVID-19, Grassley said he could support as much as $100 billion for K-12 education, up to $200 billion for another round of the Paycheck Protection Program and more funds for testing.

Grassley acknowledged that some people might call voting for a $500 billion package irresponsible, “but it’s a lot more responsible than (House Speaker) Pelosi floating a $3.5 trillion bill after we already have gone in debt $3 trillion already in four different items that were passed before April 1.”

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He has his limits. Grassley doesn’t support a “massive amount” of funds for state and local governments for COVID-19 relief or to make up for lost revenues due to the economic slowdown.

However, it wouldn’t be a deal-breaker for Grassley, who previously voted for $150 billion for state governments. Iowa received the minimum — $1.25 billion.

“I wouldn’t want to vote for another $150 billion,” he said, “but if it was in the package, it wouldn’t stop me from voting for the package.”

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

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