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Timing of COVID-19 relief may depend on election outcome, Grassley says

Timing of COVID-19 relief may depend on election outcome, Grassley says

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CEDAR RAPIDS — Sen. Chuck Grassley still expects Congress to approve another round of pandemic relief, but when that happens could depend on the outcome of the 2020 election.

“I think if (President Donald) Trump wins, Americans are going to get COVID-19 relief sooner because it’ll come before the end of this Congress,” he told reporters Wednesday. If Democrats win control of the Senate, the Finance Committee chairman expects pandemic relief might not come until after Jan. 3, when a new Congress convenes. In that case, “they can do more of what they want to do and don’t have to pay too much attention to Republicans,” Grassley said earlier at a campaign stop with state Rep. Ashley Hinson, the GOP candidate in Iowa’s 1st District.

Grassley defended the $4 trillion assortment of grants, loans and tax breaks Congress has approved to bolster the economy and help Americans weather the economic consequences of the pandemic.

After a representative of a Cedar Rapids nonprofit told him how the Paycheck Protection Program kept her program afloat, Grassley said he hears the same thing from nonprofits and businesses every time the program comes up.

“So we felt it was the right thing to do” after the economy shut down in the spring, he said.

Now, he’s frustrated by Senate Democrats, saying Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has blocked GOP-sponsored pandemic relief bills from coming to the floor.

“We don’t expect them to like the bills we put up” that include funding for another round of PPP and support for schools, Grassley said. However, he said, if Democrats allowed the bills to get to the Senate floor, they would have the opportunity to amend them.

“But they don’t want that to happen,” he said, adding that Democrats then “complain because we don’t want to do anything to fight COVID.”

Congress is facing a deadline for approving funding the government through Sept. 30, 2021, which is the end of the federal fiscal year. A COVID-19 relief package could be included in that omnibus spending bill, Grassley said.

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