Grassley wants to include derecho aid in COVID-19 relief package
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate is taking up the coronavirus relief package that passed the House over the weekend, but Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley isn’t a fan.
Grassley, a Republican, says the five previous coronavirus relief bills that passed Congress in the last year, which provided $4-trillion in aid, were all bipartisan in nature.
“Unlike these previous coronavirus bills,” Grassley says, “this package is more like a $2-trillion wish list of Democrat political priorities.”
The only bright spot in the House bill, according to Grassley, was an amendment from Iowa Congressman Randy Feenstra, a Republican from Hull. The non-partisan amendment would have helped Iowa farmers who saw their fields destroyed by the powerful derecho last August.
Feenstra’s amendment had the support of fellow Iowan and Democrat Cindy Axne when it was introduced in the House Agriculture Committee.
“The derecho amendment that Feenstra brought up passed through the committee,” Grassley says. “Unfortunately, Iowa farmers didn’t make the cut as the amendment was stripped by the House Democratic leaders, presumably, just because it was sponsored by a Republican congressman.”
The powerful storm packed winds that topped off at 140-miles an hour, the equivalent of a category-four hurricane. Grassley says the derecho wiped out 800,000 acres of crops.
“It’s pretty obvious that those farmers deserve as much help as other people that get disaster relief,” Grassley says. “I’ll be working with my colleagues in the Senate to revive the amendment so that farmers hurt by the derecho and other natural disasters can receive federal assistance.”
A controversial amendment that would have raised the federal minimum wage was removed from the House bill. It does include funding for vaccine distribution, funding for local, county and state governments, and direct payments to millions of Americans of up to $1,400.