Ernst, Grassley sought lower payments for unemployed in new COVID-19 bill

Congress “expanded unemployment insurance by 250 billion dollars” to support laid-off workers, Senator Joni Ernst said during a news conference organized by Governor Kim Reynolds on March 29.

She didn’t mention that she and fellow Republican Senator Chuck Grassley had voted to reduce the amount millions of jobless people will receive over the next four months.

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Ernst, Grassley prefer COVID-19 package without paid sick leave

The U.S. Senate voted on March 18 to approve a second bill responding to the rapidly spreading novel coronavirus (COVID-19), and President Donald Trump signed the legislation later the same day. Senators Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley were part of the 90 to 8 bipartisan majority that approved final passage of the bill. But first, Iowa’s senators supported a Republican amendment to remove mandatory paid sick leave from the bill the U.S. House approved late last week.

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Where things stand in Iowa's second Congressional district

Part of a series catching up on Iowa’s 2020 races for federal offices.

Republicans and GOP-aligned interest groups did not make a serious play for Iowa’s second Congressional district in the 2016 or 2018 elections, but this seat covering 24 counties in southeast Iowa is expected to be much more competitive this year, due to U.S. Representative Dave Loebsack’s retirement.

As the filing period for state and federal candidates approaches, both parties still have two declared candidates in IA-02, but the front-runners–former State Senator Rita Hart for Democrats and State Senator Mariannette Miller-Meeks–have further consolidated their positions.

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What Joni Ernst said (and didn't say) about acquitting Donald Trump

President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial ended on February 5 with U.S. Senate votes to acquit on both counts: 52-48 for “not guilty” on abuse of power and 53-47 for “not guilty” on obstruction of Congress. Republican Senator Mitt Romney joined the 47 members of the Democratic caucus to convict on the abuse of power charge; the other vote fell along straight party lines.

Public comments from Iowa’s Senators Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley over the past several months indicated that neither would seriously consider convicting Trump under any circumstances. Both opted not to subpoena documents the White House refused to provide during the House investigation, and voted not to hear any testimony from witnesses the president sought to keep quiet. So yesterday’s votes were no surprise.

Nevertheless, it’s worth taking a closer look at Ernst’s public explanation for her vote. A separate Bleeding Heartland post will cover Grassley’s justification for voting to acquit.

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