Grassley plans to seek derecho aid through pandemic bill

By: - March 3, 2021 2:00 pm

Grain bins in Luther were flattened by a derecho storm featuring winds of more than 100 mph. (Photo by Perry Beeman/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said he plans to file an amendment to the latest pandemic relief bill to provide aid to farms damaged by August derecho storm. 

Grassley said assistance for farmers whose crops were damaged by the hurricane-force winds in the Midwest, including Iowa, at one point was added to the $1.9 trillion House bill with bipartisan support. That included Republican Rep. Randy Feenstra, who offered the amendment, and Democratic Rep. Cindy Axne. The language was removed before the bill passed. 

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley is a Republican from New Hartford, Iowa.

“Unfortunately, Iowa farmers didn’t make the cut,” Grassley told reporters on a phone call Wednesday. “That amendment was stripped by House Democratic leaders, presumably because it was prepared and proposed by a Republican.”

“Now that the bill is in the Senate, I’d like to try to accomplish the same thing that Congressman Feenstra did by submitting an amendment,” Grassley said. 

Grassley said five previous bipartisan pandemic relief bills featured a combined $4 trillion in aid to small businesses, hospitals and families. 

The package now in the Senate is different, Grassley said. “Unlike the previous bills, this bill is a more than $2 trillion wish list of Democratic political priorities, drafted just by Democrats in the House.”

Ten Democrats and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, an independent, are pushing to add recurring payments and extended unemployment benefits to the package, but made no mention of the derecho angle, according to a CNBC report.

The Senate parliamentarian ruled that the chamber could not include an increase of the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Here are details on what is in the bill.

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Perry Beeman
Perry Beeman

Perry Beeman has nearly 40 years of experience in Iowa journalism and has won national awards for environmental and business writing. He has written for The Des Moines Register and the Business Record, where he also served as managing editor. He also is former editorial director of Grinnell College. He co-authored the recently published book, "The $80 Billion Gamble," which details the lottery-rigging case of Eddie Tipton.