Republican Congresswoman Ashley Hinson of Marion says truckers need to be moved up in the line for Covid-19 vaccinations.
“They are truly the supply chain,” Hinson says. “They are the people who are making sure our products get from (point) A to B.”
The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that are 3.5 million truck drivers in the country. Hinson says they’re critical to maintaining the food supply and to manufacturers who depend upon the prompt delivery of parts.
“I’ve heard from a number of different folks that they’re having trouble getting drivers because once a driver gets Covid-19 and they’re out of commission for a while, that’s a major challenge to our supply chain,” Hinson says. The next tier of people eligible for vaccinations, perhaps as early as next month, are so-called “essential workers.”
However, officials in the State of Iowa have indicated that with a limited supply of shots, only employees who cannot socially distance at their job site will be included. Hinson says she’s interested in finding a way to get truckers on the “essential worker” list.
Hinson is in Washington, D.C. today where the House is expected to vote on the $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package Democrats have developed.
“I know that people need relief, but these provisions that are keeping me from supporting the bill are things like $350 billion that’s going to bail out states with chronic mismanagement problems,” Hinson says. “I think that’s frankly a slap in the face to Iowa taxpayers. The Congressional Budget Office released some data to us that says the real number of what they would need is $35 billion.”
In January, Hinson announced she’d vote against the package if it included increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
“Again, I’ve been hearing from Iowans on the road that this would be an opportunity-and-job-killing provision,” Hinson says, “and so I just can’t support that.”
The minimum wage increase remains in the House version, however it’s unclear if it will stay in the package when Senators vote on it.