The Iowa Standard was able to participate Monday on Sen. Chuck Grassley’s Capitol Hill Report. We started the call by asking Sen. Grassley to describe last week and working through Phase III of the Coronavirus relief package.
“The closest thing to it would be what we did after 9-11,” Grassley said. “And maybe also what we did in 2008. 9-11, everything was shut down, particularly the airlines because of 9-11. And then we had the great recession starting in 2008. I think this is a lot bigger than those two put together.”
Sen. Grassley was then asked about what issues farmers locally face in this economy and how the SAVE Act will help them with issues going into planting season.
“There’s been a tremendous drop in livestock and crop prices and it’s directly related to the pandemic I believe,” he said. “We didn’t have good prices at $3.70, but it’s a lot different than $3.05 for corn. It follows the downturn of the stock market, the downturn of the commodity market generally is directly related to the pandemic.
“When you have lower prices, you’re going to get a bigger check from the federal government. It’s not going to be a check that guarantees profitability, but it’s going to help you over a hump.”
We then asked Sen. Grassley for his thoughts on the COVID-19 crisis here in Iowa and how he believes Gov. Kim Reynolds is handling the situation.
“We’re still going up,” he said. “Eighty-eight new cases in the last 24 hours. Obviously, New York is not even at the apex yet and we’re going to follow them, so it’s going to continue to get worse, more people infected of course we’re going to have greater ability to test, I think, at least nationally we are. And the extent to which there’s more testing, that’s going to help us separate who is infected and who isn’t. I don’t have any way of predicting for you how bad it’s going to get just for Iowa. When we hit the peak in New York City, it’s going to be a couple of weeks before you hit the peak in New Orleans and Detroit and Chicago. And I don’t know how far it goes after that.”
Sen. Grassley was asked how the Phase III package will help rural hospitals.
“There’s more federal aid coming through the Medicaid program and Medicare program,” he said. “There’s going to be help for rural hospitals at 125 percent of Medicare. And then there’s whatever we’re doing more money for ventilators, personal protective equipment, facemasks, etc. through the bill. T here’s going to be more direct aid directly to states, to the tune of $150 billion generally for the pandemic. And, there’s probably more than that, but that’s all I’ve got off the top of my head.”
We then asked Sen. Grassley for his thoughts on the shelter-in-place orders that have been issued across the country and how constitutional rights can be balanced with concerns of public health.
“I hope everybody uses their common sense and would not want to do anything just to exercise your constitutional rights that is going to endanger somebody else’s life,” Grassley said. “Common sense tells me that. And if everybody follows common sense, they don’t have to worry about their constitutional rights. I just simply say that it’d be a good thing before any changes are made from where we are right now that we listen to the public health people and follow their advice as long as we know they are following data nad using some common sense. I think that we’re going to come out of this very well with too many people losing their lives in the process, but I think we’re going to be a stronger nation and our constitutional rights are going to be protected as well.”