The U.S. Senate is expected to vote as soon as next week on a spending bill that includes 140-million dollars for a new federal courthouse in Cedar Rapids. Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says the money would replace the courthouse, which is nearly eight decades old and was heavily damaged in last month’s severe flooding.
"I’m hopeful that it can come through on one of the supplemental appropriation bills that we’re going to be pushing for relief for Midwestern and specifically Iowa flood victims and flood damage," Grassley says, "the same as we did for (Hurricane) Katrina, as an example."
Other members of Iowa’s congressional delegation are joining with Grassley in urging U.S. courts officials to place the Cedar Rapids courthouse project higher on the list of vital projects. "The fact that they made it an emergency situation has not evidently, in the minds of the appropriators, moved it up on the priority list," Grassley says. "We were fourth or fifth and we’re still fourth or fifth and they’ve decided to not fund enough courthouses to get down to fourth or fifth place."
The current federal courthouse in Cedar Rapids has sections that date back to 1931 and officials say it was in disrepair before the floods hit — and now Grassley says it’s in very sad condition due to the flood damage.
He says, "It gives a great deal of impetus in the Congress of the United States to move it ahead, particularly our being able to make the argument — why waste money fixing up an old courthouse when we’re just around the corner building a new one anyway?"
Grassley says it’ll make more sense for taxpayers to expedite a new courthouse and it will be "a major boost to the recovery effort and rebuilding morale in the Cedar Rapids community."