U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley said Wednesday he supports a federal funding package for coronavirus relief but opposes spending “a massive amount of money" to shore up state and local government budgets.
The Iowa Republican and influential chairman of the Senate Finance Committee talked to reporters Wednesday as negotiations picked up speed in Washington surrounding a possible COVID-19 relief package.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer embraced a $908 billion approach that would establish a $300 per week jobless benefit, send $160 billion to help state and local governments, boost schools and universities, revive popular “paycheck protection” subsidies for businesses, and bail out transit systems and airlines.
Grassley said Congress should approve help for families, businesses, schools and communities, and he called for a bill with bipartisan support costing around $500 billion. He added he'd consider something less than $1 trillion.
With Washington deadlocked on aid, governors in some states have called special legislative sessions to consider emergency state virus relief funding. When asked Tuesday if she was considering such a move, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said the state lacks the money needed.
“This is something Congress needs to do. They need to step up and do their job,” she said,
Grassley said he doesn't favor big spending for state and local government budgets suffering from loss of revenue during the pandemic.
“I do not support a massive amount of money for state and local relief connected with the COVID,” he said. “I voted once for $150 billion dollars I wouldn’t want to vote for another $150 billion but if it was in the package it wouldn’t stop me from voting for the package.”
The city of Des Moines said in a statement Wednesday that it estimates coronavirus-related revenue losses at $25 million in the current fiscal year, and city manager Scott Sanders said losses will continue well into next year.
Reynolds announced Wednesday she is providing $7 million from existing federal CARES Act funding for a grant program to support arts venues. cultural organizations and artists who have lost significant business or income due to the pandemic. Grants ranging from $1,000 to $250,000 are available through the program administered by the Iowa Arts Council and the State Historical Society of Iowa.