Joni Ernst says Congress is focused on providing quick relief to families amid COVID-19 pandemic

Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, told reporters Wednesday that congressional leaders are working on bipartisan lines to provide relief to families and small businesses in the form of three phases of an economic stimulus package.

Sen.+Joni+Ernst+%28R-Iowa%29+discusses+her+accomplishments+as+senator+during+the+Iowa+GOP+Reception+at+Hughes+Family+Barn+in+Cedar+Rapids+on+Friday%2C+Oct.+18%2C+2019.+Facilitated+by+RPI+Chairman+Jeff+Kaufmann%2C+Iowa+Gov.+Kim+Reynolds+and+Ernst+discussed+their+hardships+and+highlights+throughout+their+political+roles+and+personal+lives.+

Hannah Kinson

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) discusses her accomplishments as senator during the Iowa GOP Reception at Hughes Family Barn in Cedar Rapids on Friday, Oct. 18, 2019. Facilitated by RPI Chairman Jeff Kaufmann, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds and Ernst discussed their hardships and highlights throughout their political roles and personal lives.

Julia Shanahan, Politics Editor

Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, told reporters in a Wednesday conference call that as Congress votes today on the second phase of their economic stimulus plan, giving relief to small businesses amid the pandemic remains a top priority looking forward to phase three.

Ernst said today’s bill, which expected to receive a bipartisan vote, will provide a 100 percent tax credit to to help businesses provide wages for workers who are on sick leave or taking care of a child while daycares close. She said the bill will also allow for free COVID-19 diagnostic testing when a doctor says a test is needed.

This bill passed the U.S. House on Friday 360-40.

“It’s important our child-care centers, like our other small businesses that are feeling the squeeze right now, get the support to continue on,” Ernst said Wednesday.

Both the U.S. House and Senate voted to pass phase one in the beginning of March, which approved $8 billion in federal aid for unemployment relief and Medicaid debt.

Ernst said that in phase three of the economic stimulus package, she is focusing on getting significant financial relief for small businesses and working-class families affected by business closures.

“I’ve heard from a number of small business owners who are concerned about the immediate and future impacts this virus could have on them and the countless Iowans they employ,” Ernst told reporters. “To that end, I’ve had discussions with the administration, including Ivanka Trump and (U.S. Treasury) Secretary Mnuchin, as well as with my fellow members of the Small Business Committee, like Chairman Marco Rubio, about the path forward.”

In total, the White House is requesting $1 trillion in federal aid during this pandemic. Some congressional leaders, such as Sen. Mit Romney, R-Utah, called for direct payments to families. Romney recommended giving $1,000 to every American adult.

Ernst said they will look at direct payments in phase three of the stimulus package, but is unsure if she will support that measure at this time.  Ernst also said that they are continuing to monitor how the virus is affecting the biofuel industries and trade agreements with China.

Some projections show that the pandemic will cause an economic recession, as stock markets continue to see negative numbers. Ernst called this pandemic uncharted territory, and that although she is concerned about the federal spending deficit, Congress is focused on providing quick relief.

“We just need to understand this is a pandemic, this is going to be a very tough time,” Ernst said. “And I hope that we are all wrong and that we bounce right back and this virus goes away, but what we can do is, do the best we can to stop the spread. And if we can stop the spread, we can get our economy right back on track.”

 

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