Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) on Wednesday urged Americans to support each other as lawmakers work to strike a deal on a measure providing economic relief during the coronavirus pandemic and blasted Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) for taking credit for the latest relief package.
The senator spoke to Breitbart News Daily about her latest challenge, #MyCOVIDfive, encouraging Americans to check on at least five people and see if they need anything, given the chaotic state of the world caused by the coronavirus.
“The government can only do so much for our citizens. It’s up to our individuals, our citizens, to reach out to each other and make sure they are being supported,” she said.
Today I started #MyCOVIDfive by checking in with nearly a dozen folks to make sure they were doing okay.
We can all be leaders in our own communities by reaching out to FIVE people who may need help during #COVID19
— Joni Ernst (@joniernst) March 17, 2020
“We know we have vulnerable people in our population. And while the government can’t get out and get their groceries for them, a neighbor can. So what I’m asking, just check on five folks. Make sure you’re reaching out,” she continued, urging Americans to contact vulnerable people, particularly, and offer assistance — whether it be picking up groceries or running to the post office.
“Whatever it might happen to be. Just ask them, ‘Can I help you?’” she said, stressing the importance of making sure others know that “people care.”
“This is a hard time. I know of a lot of folks that are now out of work because they were working in the service restaurants, hotels, whatever,” she explained. “There’s a lot of anxiety right there, and until we get our package done here in Congress, I know they’re going to continue having anxiety, and then when does this end. So we’ll keep plugging through, but just through this entire event, this episode of coronavirus, we want to make sure that we are caring for each other.”
“You know the government can do so much, individuals can do so much more,” Ernst added.
That connection could help bridge the gap, as lawmakers on Capitol Hill work on a bill to provide economic relief to the American people. Lawmakers, Ernst said, originally had a “very, very strong” and bipartisan relief package, but Democrats shot it down after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) flew into town.
“And then boom, [it] got hit by, you know, the House suggestions, which included all kinds of things from airplane emissions standards, you know, Green New Deal kind of stuff, to supporting various art centers. That was not the focus of the bill. The bill was to focus on the pandemic and the issue at hand,” she said, shredding Pelosi’s partisan demands.
“Some of these other policy changes — same-day voter registration, federalizing the elections, you know stuff like that. We can have that debate another day. So we were absolutely horrified at what the Democrats were trying to do,” she said.
Congress was able to strike a deal on a $2 trillion relief bill early Wednesday morning, but Ernst said it is essentially “the same bill that we had over the weekend.”
“What is driving me crazy right now is the fact that Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer is out there touting, ‘Oh well we put in unemployment, and we did this.’ I’m sorry Mr. Schumer, but all of that was in the original bill,” Ernst said.
“So while he’s out there trying to take credit for what we have in front of us now, he did absolutely nothing but delay this product from getting onto the floor of the Senate and being voted on by our body,” she continued.
Ernst said she wants the American people to understand that, at the end of the day, the bill that is presented today is virtually the same as the original bill, which Democrats blocked.
“So when you hear him touting what a great deal the Democrats came up with, I want everybody to understand and realize that this is, large and part, the same package we had two days ago that they outright rejected — delay tactics by the Democratic Party at the expense of the American people,” she said.