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Iowa Dems target Ernst for COVID relief

Veronica Guevara’s family has been hit especially hard by COVID-19.

The Marshalltown resident’s mother and grandmother recovered, but her grandfather did not. After four weeks in the hospital, he was taken off a ventilator and died on May 27.

Guevara told her story during a virtual press conference held by Iowa Democrats on Wednesday.

“This crisis has not spared my family,” Guevara said. “My family is comprised of frontline and essential workers so they haven’t been able to stay home.”

Her mother was the first to be infected with the virus in April. She was hospitalized for a week before being released. A day after her release, Guevara’s grandparents were admitted.

“Just when we thought we were able to take a sigh of relief,” she said.

After seeing the impact the virus has had on her family, Guevara is calling for the U.S. Senate, specifically Sen. Joni Ernst, to prioritize finalizing a relief package.

Ernst and the Supreme Court are currently in the process of confirming a new Supreme Court Justice, Judge Amy Coney Barrett. The confirmation of a new justice has been a divisive political issue this fall that harkens back to the 2016 general election season when a republican senate held off confirming a justice during an election year.

“Grieving is always hard — but this is a wound that doesn’t seem to heal,” Guevara said. “Especially with the type of leadership that we have. The pain that my family has faced should not be taking a backseat to party politics. Sen. Ernst must put this crisis above all else, but that’s not what we’ve seen.”

Guevara and Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Mark Smith of Marshalltown cited polls that show a majority of Iowans support the senate passing a new economic relief package before confirming a new Supreme Court justice.

“Yet Sen. Ernst is charging ahead, ignoring the voices of Iowans,” Smith said. “The fact is Ernst’s hypocritical rush to confirm Judge Barrett is a last ditch effort to roll back health care for Iowans. Iowa is facing a health care crisis and instead of making it better, Sen. Ernst is making it worse. That’s why we’re going to send her packing.”

During a 2018 interview with the Des Moines Register, Sen. Ernst said on the record it would be “fair” for vacant Supreme Court seats to be filled after the election process should one open late in a president’s term.

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has reportedly called for economic relief talks to be put on hold until after the Nov. 3 election to push judge Barrett’s confirmation forward.

“To be clear, the current proposals from the Senate GOP just don’t cut it,” Guevara said. “We need urgent relief for health care providers. Congress should renew the enhanced unemployment benefits they let expire months ago. Paid family leave should be expanded so no one has to choose between risking their health or the health of their co-workers in order to earn a paycheck like my family has.”

Sen. Ernst was joined by former U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley on the campaign trail in West Des Moines Wednesday.

Ernst spokesperson Brendan Conley defended her response to the pandemic.

“Amid COVID-19, Joni Ernst has worked with Democrats and Republicans to quickly pass bipartisan legislation to help provide urgently needed relief for Iowa families, hospitals, farmers and small businesses,” Conley said. “Yet liberal Theresa Greenfield has opposed every single aid package proposed in Congress, including Joni’s bipartisan efforts.”

The Democratic Party’s presence in Marshalltown increased early Wednesday evening with the arrival of the “Early Vote Express” bus tour. The bus is traveling the state to encourage voting and early voting. It is affiliated with the Joe Biden campaign.

“We’re encouraging people to get out and vote and hopefully vote for Joe Biden,” said Sam Reynoldson, communications intern for the Biden campaign.

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Contact Joe Fisher at 641-753-6611 or jfisher@timesrepublican.com

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