Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says he will support Senate Leader Mitch McConnell’s plea to pass an immediate coronavirus spending bill to provide billions of dollars for a response.
The U.S. House may vote on its version of the bill as soon as tomorrow. Grassley, a Republican, says action is needed right away.
“It will be funded on an emergency basis,” Grassley says, “and it is very much needed to stay ahead of what we hope will not become a pandemic, at least not one within the United States.”
It’s still unclear how much the response may cost. Where will the expected billions of dollars come from? Grassley says huge sums were appropriated several years ago when the Ebola virus spread across Africa.
“Some people in the United States had Ebola and so we appropriated a lot of money at that time to stay on top of it,” Grassley says. “Half a billion dollars of that was not spent. That could be transferred to this bill to pay for part of it.”
Grassley says the president and vice president are very involved in the coronavirus response, coordinating with multiple federal agencies.
“They’re all working very closely with Congress to address this virus issue,” Grassley says. “Senator Ernst and I are also working closely with Governor Reynolds and state officials because there needs to be a great deal of cooperation between state and federal governments on this.”
Some 90,000 coronavirus cases are confirmed in more than 60 countries worldwide with more than 3,000 dead.
State health officials say five people in Iowa are being monitored for the virus, none with symptoms, while two others are being tested for COVID-19. As yet, no cases in Iowa are confirmed.