Sen. Chuck Grassley hopes to amend COVID-19 relief bill to include aid for farmers

A $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief passed the U.S. House on Feb. 27, and will move to the Senate floor next.


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.

Natalie Dunlap, Politics Reporter

As the U.S. Senate prepares to bring a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill to the floor, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, plans to submit an amendment that would allow farmers hurt by derecho and other natural disasters to receive federal funding. 

The bill passed out of the House along party lines on Feb. 27. Rep. Randy Feenstra, R-Iowa, proposed an amendment that would provide derecho disaster relief to Iowans, but it was struck down by House Democrats after being passed out of the House Agriculture Committee with support from Republicans and Rep. Cindy Axne, D-Iowa, the only Democrat in the state’s delegation. 

“Now that the bill is coming before the Senate I’m going to try to accomplish the same thing that Congressman Feenstra did by submitting an amendment,” Grassley told reporters in a press call on Wednesday. 

Grassley is critical of sections of the bill that he says are part of a wishlist of Democratic priorities, such as a bail out to multiemployer pension systems. He said he could support a little less than a third of what is in the bill, which he says is how much of the bill is closely related to pandemic relief, such as allocating resources to the unemployed, small businesses, education, testing and vaccine distribution, among other items. 

In a statement on Feb. 26, Feenstra said the pandemic already presented challenges to farmers, and that managing the impact of a natural disaster on top of that warranted federal aid. 

“We’re about to enter planting season, and many farmers are still recovering from losses due to the pandemic and last year’s devastating derecho,” Feenstra said. “Farmers across the country who suffered from natural disasters in 2020, in the middle of this pandemic, need relief now.” 

Grassley said the five previous COVID-19 relief bills have had bipartisan support.

“If we have a year’s record of that, why would you want to do a bunch of things different now, Particularly when Biden in his inaugural address says he wants to work across party lines?” Grassley said. 

Grassley was also questioned on the call about why he filed a statement of candidacy for the 2022 election with the Federal Elections Commission. He said he was still planning to make an announcement about whether he will seek an eighth senate term in September, October, or November of this year.