House Democrats removed a proposal put forward by Rep. Randy Feenstra to help those recovering from the powerful derecho storm that moved across Iowa in 2020. Feenstra’s amendment, co-sponsored by Rep Miller-Meeks and Rep. Ashley Hinson, passed with bipartisan support in the house agriculture committee just a few weeks before.
Congressman Feenstra’s proposal focused on authorizing the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus (WHIP+) to include those still suffering and recovering from the summer’s derecho to received federal support.
Democrats voted to strip the measure, just as Feenstra had feared and warned might happen from a massive “Covid-19” bill. Despite dropping Derecho relief for those in need, the bill included a minimum wage hike to $15 per hour, a bailout to cities and states as well as individual earmarks for pork-barrel projects.
Democrats are going to take away relief for victims of natural disasters like the derecho, instead choosing to fund Pelosi’s Payoff to Progressives:
❌Underground train in Silicon Valley
❌$350 billion to bailout mismanaged govts
— Rep. Randy Feenstra (@RepFeenstra) February 24, 2021
In a statement after the vote, Feenstra blasted the decision by Democrats, saying that Iowans and rural America deserve better.
“I’m extremely disappointed that Democrats in the House have voted to turn their backs on Iowa farmers by voting to ax derecho disaster relief. We’re about to enter planting season, and many farmers are still recovering from losses due to the pandemic and last year’s devastating derecho. Farmers across the country who suffered from natural disasters in 2020, in the middle of this pandemic, need relief now.
“Despite Democrats’ ridiculous excuses for cutting this disaster assistance, my amendment was stripped for one simple, obvious reason: It was led by a Republican. Democrats chose to put politics over people, leaving struggling Iowa farmers in the dust. Iowans deserve better from Democrats. All of rural America deserves better from Democrats.
“As the only bipartisan amendment to pass out of any committee, it was the last hope for bipartisanship in the entire reconciliation process. But it’s clear Democrats have never been interested in ‘unity.’ They’re only interested in advancing their agenda — an agenda that benefits coastal states and leaves Iowans behind.
“I will continue working with my colleagues to push back against Speaker Pelosi’s out-of-touch policies, and I will never stop fighting to deliver results for the hardworking men and women of Iowa who feed and fuel the world.”
Feenstra gave a full-throated defense of the effort in his testimony before the committee.
Rep Miller-Meeks released the following statement after the reconciliation vote.
“I am disappointed that all Republican amendments, including Rep. Feenstra’s bipartisan derecho disaster relief amendment, were blocked from this $1.9 trillion bill. With almost $1 trillion of previous bipartisan funding packages remaining unspent and now over a trillion in new funds only tangentially related to the COVID pandemic; it is unacceptable that less than 1/2 of 1% of the total funds in this bill will go to fund local and state public health workers. Additionally, roughly 9% of the funds are going to vaccines, testing, and contact tracing, which is simply not enough, said Congresswoman Miller-Meeks
Across Iowa’s 99 counties, local public health officials are intelligent, experienced, and capable to dispense vaccines in a rapid and efficient process. Acknowledging the tremendous work that our state and local public health workforce does on a daily basis and FUNDING their efforts directly down to the community level with non-competitive local public health grants will go a long way towards defeating this virus and get America back on its feet,” she concluded.
While the Senate and House Covid-19 relief bills will require a conference committee to resolve differences, it is unlikely that any other opportunity will allow for federal derecho relief.