LEE COUNTY - U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said it may be time to start looking at pulling in some of the America Rescue Plan Act funding if it's not being properly appropriated or even left unspent.
Grassley made the comments during his weekly Capitol Hill Report where he meets with a member of radio/broadcast media and a member of print media. This weeks report featured Pen City Current and Nathan Konz of Carroll Broadcasting Co. of Carrol, Iowa.
Konz and Pen City Current's Chuck Vandenberg pressed Grassley, who voted against the stimulus package, on ARPA funds and if the funding is getting away from its intention.
"From time to time we're spending money on some new project or policy in the United States, and sometiomes we try to offset that money by taking money that's not COVID-related, or is unspent and try to reallocate that. But we haven't been successful in it," Grassley said.
But he said transparency is the key as far as he's concerned.
"First of all, if this is going to be spent, they're going to have to point to the law that allows it to be spent for that purpose. So if its something that's not being spent, my policy is that Americans deserve transparency to make sure the taxpayers' money isn't being lost to fraud or being misspent in any other way. That's what Congressional overrsight is all about. I would expect members of the appropriations committee to ride herd on that money to make sure it's spent in an appropriate, legal way."
Grassley said he didn't vote for the stimulus package out of fear of what would happen to inflation. He said Democratic economists told the leadership that it wasn't a good spend.
"None of the leadership listened to them and that's why we have the inflation we have today," he said.
Grassley also lead a hearing Tuesday morning focused on bringing attention to suffering staffing situations in law enforcement. An Iowa police officer Zach Andersen was present at the hearings in Washington D.C. and delivered opening remarks about the critical need for support of America's law enforcement agencies.
Grassley said he attributes the increase in violent crime, including attacks on police forces, as a reason agencies suffer in recruitment and retention.
"We're after a couple things and that's to bring attention to a bill that I’ve introduced that would gather more stats on gang shootings on police officers," he said.
"But the overriding purpose is to highlight the lack of morale of policeman for their profession."
The 88-year-old Senator, who's seeking another six-year term in the November general election, said he spoke with law enforcement officials in Davenport several months ago and learned that morale is down, there are difficulties in recruiting, and people are retiring without a sufficient backfill of those positions.
"There's just not enough people applying for these jobs and law enforcement is weak as a result of it."
Grassley also spoke about the possibility of a recession saying he prefers to call it a "couple quarters of negative growth".
"I don't think it will be a deep recession, but from my meetings in the 99 counties, I'm hearing it's the small business people that are the ones who frequently use the term. Democrats don't like it because they are embarassed by it."
Grassley, a former farmer who has a natural gas line running through his property in Butler County, said current discussions and negotiations around carbon capture pipelines are in the hands of the Iowa Utilities Board. He said he gets questions at his county meetings about the pipelines and said the issue is highly controversial.
"People who want to establish this need to do a better job of communicating with landowners,' he said. "And the people who think it's beneficial need to be more proactive about it."
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