Chuck Grassley says Congress should pass bipartisan COVID-19 relief package

The Republican senator from Iowa said he’d be willing to vote on a relief package that’s under $1 trillion, but said the type of aid is more important than the price tag.


Katie Goodale

U.S Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, speaks with the Daily Iowan staff after a visit to Mercy Hospital on July 2, 2019.

Caleb McCullough, Politics Editor

Sen. Chuck Grassley said he’d be willing to vote for a coronavirus relief package that comes in at less than $1 trillion, provided it has key bipartisan provisions.

In a conference call with reporters Wednesday, Grassley said it’s imperative that Congress pass a second economic relief package, which has been one of the most elusive goals in Congress since the $2.2 trillion CARES Act was passed in March. Democrats and Republicans are at odds on how much to spend and where to put the money.

“I hope my colleagues have come to the same conclusion. And that we can pass a bipartisan bill very soon,” Grassley said Wednesday. “…There’s just a multitude of things that have bipartisan support, and I don’t see why we can at least pass what we agree on.”

Grassley pointed to money for schools, small business relief, and money to states for testing and vaccine distribution as areas where Congress can find bipartisan agreement. Congress is also mostly in agreement on providing increased unemployment assistance, but differ on the amount.

On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell rejected a $908 billion package from a bipartisan group of senators and House representatives. The Republican leader has backed a $500 billion relief package, while House Democrats have stood by a proposal costing more than $2 trillion.

Grassley said the cost of the package is less important than what type of aid it includes, and he stressed that he wants to see a package that addresses issues the two parties agree on.

“It would be those items that would make a difference,” Grassley said. “Now if they added up, ideally, to $500 billion would be best for me. But if it’s something less than a trillion I could consider voting for it.”

This is Grassley’s first week back in Congress after being in isolation because of a positive COVID-19 test. Grassley, 87, said he didn’t experience any symptoms, and was able to work from home. While in quarantine, Grassley ended a record 27-year streak of not missing a vote in the Senate.

“Even though I was able to work from home, it’s good to be back in the Senate working for the people of Iowa,” Grassley said.

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