Sen. Chuck Grassley

Stock markets are tumbling over spiraling gasoline prices and mounting cases of coronavirus, so Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says Washington leaders are considering several ways to steady the economy.

In addition to last week’s cut in interest rates by the Federal Reserve, Grassley says members of Congress are studying a host of targeted tax relief measures. “Which would include doing something with the payroll tax which you’ve heard talk out of the White House about maybe moving in that direction,” Grassley says. “This tax policy comes within my Senate Finance Committee. We’re just beginning a discussion on that.”

During a conference call with Iowa reporters, Grassley was asked if Congress was considering a way to help out workers who might see their paychecks sidelined by temporary business shutdowns. “Right now, I’d have to say that has not specifically been talked about, but I think it would be a subject that would be on the table when we talk about any governmental response to the economic consequences that are negative about the virus.”

Grassley says White House and Congressional leaders will meet today to discuss whether there needs to be a change in fiscal policy as well. That might include an economic stimulus package revolving around large-scale infrastructure projects, though Grassley says he’d want to see the money injected quickly.

“Projects that were considered shovel-ready after the financial crisis of 2008, so 2009 and ’10 there was a stimulus package but some of that money wasn’t spent until two or three years later,” Grassley says. “We’re going to have to do those things that have an impact on the economy sooner.” Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who serves on the Senate Judiciary Committee with Grassley, is among the members of Congress who may’ve recently been exposed to coronavirus. Grassley says he hasn’t come in close contact with Cruz lately.

“We were not in session so I didn’t cross paths with him during that period of time,” Grassley says. “He’s in self-isolation now at his home in Texas so we won’t be crossing paths with him until he gets out, which will be ten days from now.” At least four other members of Congress are in self-isolation due to possible exposure.