Iowa ranks eighth in the nation for cases per capita, with only 1.8% of its population completely vaccinated  

As a key member of the Senate Finance Committee, Grassley has obstructed confirmation of Biden’s Health and Human Services Secretary nominee, Xavier Becerra, leaving department without leadership as COVID-19 continues to devastate Iowa

Accountable Senate War Room: “Grassley must put politics aside for the sake of his constituents and ensure that, moving forward, he will prioritize the people of Iowa by working swiftly to confirm Xavier Becerra as HHS secretary” 

Washington, D.C. – Today, the Accountable Senate War Room released a background brief outlining the ongoing devastation of COVID-19 cases and deaths throughout the state of Iowa, highlighting the increasing need to get the pandemic under control. While Iowans are fighting for their lives against the pandemic and its subsequent economic impacts, Senator Chuck Grassley, the outgoing chairman and top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, continues to delay and obstruct the confirmation process of Xavier Becerra, President Biden’s nominee for secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Every day further delayed is another day that small businesses remain closed, hard-working Americans remain on unemployment, and lives are lost to the pandemic.

“By playing politics with our nation’s top health official, Senator Grassley is standing in the way of Iowans getting vaccinated, getting back to work, and getting back on their feet,” said Mairead Lynn, spokesperson for Accountable Senate War Room. “Iowa families can’t afford any more inaction from their senator, whose job it is to get the pandemic under control and people back to work. Grassley must put politics aside for the sake of his constituents and ensure that moving forward, he will prioritize the people of Iowa by working swiftly to confirm Xavier Becerra as HHS secretary.”

BACKGROUND BRIEF: The impact of obstruction in Iowa

In December, while Republicans still had control of the Senate during the lame-duck period, Grassley flat out rejected any possibility of a speedy confirmation process for then President-elect Biden’s nominees, denying the new administration the opportunity to hit the ground running once sworn in. As Grassley continues to delay the confirmation of Xavier Becerra, Iowa has been ranked eighth in the nation for COVID cases per capita, and has had nearly 5,000 deaths from the pandemic. With hospital capacity nearly 60% and a slow vaccination process underway, Iowans cannot afford further inaction from Senator Grassley. The lack of leadership at HHS threatens to further complicate the government’s COVID-19 response and could impact the agency’s ability to distribute hundreds of millions of vaccines. Instead of working to provide his constituents with the life-saving aid they so desperately need, Grassley is playing politics with our country’s top health official, indifferent to and even perpetuating his constituents’ suffering.

The Department of Health and Human Services plays a huge role in the work that must be done to get the COVID-19 pandemic under control. After being left with a “nonexistent coronavirus vaccine distribution plan” by the outgoing Trump administration, President Biden is essentially starting “from scratch” and needs his HHS secretary in place to help distribute hundreds of millions of vaccine doses across the country. Further delays could cause vaccines to expire before being administered, forcing life-saving doses to be tossed in the trash. Senate Republicans failed to do their job while they had power during the lame-duck period. It’s time for Republicans to work across the aisle  to ensure the Biden administration has all the tools to combat the COVID crisis as quickly and effectively as possible, starting with a swift confirmation of Xavier Becerra. 

Here’s a quick snapshot of the COVID-19 situation in Iowa:

  • Total Case Count: 319,408
    • Iowa ranks eighth in the nation in cases per capita.
  • Daily Case Count Average: 895
  • Total Death Count: 4,901
  • Hospital Bed Occupancy Rate: 59%
  • Iowans Completely Vaccinated: 1.8%
  • Iowans Who Received At Least One Vaccine Dose: 6%
  • Percent Of Vaccine Supply Distributed: 60%
  • Disproportionate Racial Impacts:
    • Iowans who were Native American, Black, Hispanic or Latino, and Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander were more likely to contract COVID-19 than white Iowans.
    • Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders were over 2.5 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than white Iowans.


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