The U.S. Senate passed the $1.9 trillion relief package pushed by President Joe Biden Saturday after a 25-hour marathon of votes on amendments.
Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, a Republican, voted against the bill and says much of the debate was on things not related to the pandemic. He says they could have gotten by with a bill at 500 billion that took care of the problems of the unemployed, small businesses, K-12 education, and the people who are hurting.
The bill passed the Democrat-controlled Senate 50-49 with a party-line vote. Grassley says a package could have passed weeks ago. “That would have been bipartisan like five bills that passed last year to help with the virus situation. Help small businesses, help the unemployed, help the low-income people that were hurt by the virus because the government shut everything down, Grassley says. “And we even had ten Republicans go down and talk to Biden about it — but no — they wanted to do something that was more general with a wish list of Democratic proposals.”
Grassley says Democrats even rejected his attempt to reinstate an attempt to make derecho damage eligible for federal assistance that was originally offered in the House by Iowa Republican Congressman Randy Feenstra.
“It’s a sad commentary when every Democrat voted against it. Because most every Democrat senator has agriculture in their district and a lot of them have farmers who are hurting because of natural disasters….I am so disappointed that Democrat senators would vote against the farmers that way,” Grassley says.
Iowa’s other Senator, Republican Joni Ernst issued a statement saying Democrats-led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer-shut ignored President Biden’s call for unity and shut out Republicans in the bill. Ernst says Democrats focused on fast-tracking their “highly partisan” bill that she says is “full of spending that has absolutely nothing to do with addressing the immediate needs of COVID-19.”
The relief measure known as the “American Rescue Plan Act” heads back to the House with Democrats hoping to have it signed into law this week.
(By Woody Gottburg, KSCJ, Sioux City)