Grassley: evaluate current coronavirus relief before creating “Phase Four”
NEW HARTFORD — Some government leaders say the massive CARES Act that passed Congress last month may not be doing enough to keep states, small businesses, hospitals, and individuals afloat during the pandemic.
While the so-called Phase Three emergency bailout package was the largest ever at $2.2 trillion, Iowa U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley says there’s already talk of a Phase Four measure. “I would not conclude at this point that we need a fourth package,” Grassley says. “I think we’re going to have one even if we don’t need it for various reasons of equity. Let me tell you, we’re in the process of even now thinking, do we need one or not need one?”
Grassley, a Republican, says most elements incorporated into the CARES Act were designed to provide financial aid for three to four months, while some were for programs through the end of the year. The package includes $1,200 checks to most Americans as well as tens of billions for states, a range of businesses and health care providers.
“Two-and-a-half weeks ago when we started putting this package together,” Grassley says, “we went into the negotiations with the Democrats with open eyes, that we’re going to try to put together a package that will hopefully get us past the height of the pandemic,” Grassley says it’s too early to start second-guessing the merits of Phase Three, as it’s only been a little over a week that it’s been in place. He says Congress will need to reevaluate the situation in another five or six weeks.
“If our head isn’t going to be above water, then we start putting together a fourth package,” Grassley says. “If it looks like this economy is going to rebound, strongly, then probably not.”
Iowa’s other U.S. Senator Joni Ernst agrees with Grassley, saying she’s not yet sure a fourth federal stimulus package will be needed. Ernst says if one is developed, it should include more help for the health care system to make sure “we are investing properly in vaccinations and making sure that we are also developing plans for other future possibilities of other pandemics.”