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Grassley, Ernst call on Biden administration to release vaccine allocation numbers

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, arrives as opening arguments begin Wednesday in former President Donald Trump's impeachment
Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, arrives as opening arguments begin Wednesday in former President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial at the Capitol in Washington. (Associated Press)

Iowa Republican U.S. Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst say greater transparency is needed from the Biden administration on the state’s allocation of COVID-19 vaccines, as reports suggest Iowa ranks near the bottom of states in vaccines delivered.

The pair sent a letter earlier this week to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention requesting its weekly formula for allocating vaccines to states and other jurisdictions. Grassley and Ernst, in a statement, said CDC data does not provide transparency into the state’s vaccine allocation formula.

“Iowans must have confidence we are receiving our fair share of vaccines,” the pair wrote in their letter to the CDC.

Grassley on Wednesday told reporters, “You’d be surprised at how many phone calls we are getting, people saying that they can’t get their vaccines or any information on when they’re going to get it.”

“And it isn’t just in Iowa. It’s all over the country,” Grassley said.

Iowa ranks 47th among the states with only 8 percent of its population having received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to CDC data. It ranks in the middle for the number of people who have received both doses and 40th overall in doses distributed per capita.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds has largely blamed the state’s problems on its low vaccine allocation from the federal government, which she said last week was 47th per capita. She also indicated that some counties were not administering their doses quickly enough and that she would put in new metrics to speed them up.

However, many essential workers and people 65 and older who became eligible for shots Feb. 1 have been unable to find doses despite spending hours making calls or searching online.

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Grassley — who has received his first dose of the vaccine — on Wednesday, citing a Wall Street Journal op-ed from former U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioners Dr. Scott Gottlieb and Dr. Mark McClellan, said vaccine supply is ramping up. And that perhaps by April, “especially with improved delivery,” supply will start exceeding demand, Grassley said quoting from the op-ed.

“This is what we’re facing that you wouldn’t know from the phone calls that we’re having right now,” Grassley said.

Grassley on Tuesday voted with a majority of Senate Republicans in a failed attempt to block the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump for inciting the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Grassley expressed “skepticism” that the trial is proper under the U.S. Constitution as Trump is now a private citizen.

Trump’s attorneys argued making a former president stand trial would establish a troubling precedent for any former official to be punished at the whim of the party in power. Democrats and many legal experts, however, contend impeached former presidents should not be immune from the consequences of their actions while in office, and that the Constitution permits impeachment, conviction and disqualification from holding office for former officials.

“Scholars and lawyers will certainly continue to argue the matter,” Grassley said. “The Senate will proceed to trial, regardless. As I have in the past, I will do my duty as a sitting juror” and “will reserve judgment as any juror should do.”

Grassley said his decision whether to convict Trump will not be swayed by his doubts as to the constitutionality of the proceedings, stating “there’s no connection” between Tuesday’s vote and determining Trump’s guilt or innocence.

Trump’s acquittal, however, seems likely, as 17 GOP senators would need to vote with Democrats in order to convict him.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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