Sen. Chuck Grassley

The federal CARES Act money to help sustain businesses during the pandemic ran out last week and Iowa U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley says a new aid package –may– be voted upon as soon as today, but the situation is very fluid.

Grassley says he was initially told there would be a Senate vote at 4 o’clock this afternoon, but it’s unclear now if that will still happen. Dollar amounts were decided upon late Sunday. Grassley says, “As of last night, that was $351 billion for the small business loan program, 75-billion for hospitals, and $25 billion for testing.”

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act passed Congress with overwhelming, bipartisan support and was signed into law by President Trump on March 27th. It allotted a record two-point-two trillion dollars to address the pandemic, including $1,200 checks to most Americans. Grassley, a Republican, says this new incarnation of the CARES Act has been the subject of some partisan squabbling, but he thought they’d gotten past that.

“There’s a consensus that even though that’s more than what Republicans might want to do, because we haven’t had money run out for testing and hospitals yet, but money has run out for small business, we were willing to let that go,” he says. In a conference call with Iowa reporters at 8 a.m. today, Iowa’s senior senator says it’s uncertain what will transpire this afternoon or even –if– there will be a vote.

“That isn’t really nailed down yet,” Grassley says. “So, when I thought last night we’ll have this taken care of by 4 o’clock this afternoon, I just don’t know for sure. It’s still a little bit touch-and-go I would say.” A state program was also launched earlier this month to help sustain Iowa businesses.

The Iowa Economic Development Authority quickly burned through $24 million dollars in grants to several hundred Iowa businesses, though 14,000 business owners applied and the vast majority of them had to be denied.