Millions in Cash Just Sitting Around, Unused; Ernst Says Let’s Use it to Purchase Masks, Personal Protective Equipment

The Iowa senator is calling for the $350M+ sitting in the outdated, unused Presidential Election Campaign Fund to immediately be used to purchase additional materials to combat COVID-19

WASHINGTON – After hearing from Governor Kim Reynolds and a number of health providers across Iowa about a shortage of specialized masks and personal protective equipment (PPE), U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) is calling for the more than $350 million that’s currently sitting idle in the Presidential Election Campaign Fund to immediately be used for equipment for health care providers, first responders, and others to guard against COVID-19.

Ernst’s bill would immediately redirect the millions in unused cash from the dormant election fund to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Strategic National Stockpile, to be used to purchase specialized face masks and other personal protective equipment right away.

“As I’ve said, it’s going to take an all hands on deck approach to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. I’ve heard directly from Iowa state officials and our health care providers about the need for additional masks and personal protective equipment,” said Senator Ernst, a member of the Senate Small Business Committee. “Right now, there’s more than $350 million in unused cash sitting around in the obsolete and outdated presidential election campaign fund. This is simple. We should immediately move that money to where it’s critically needed: let’s put it toward more masks and personal protective equipment for the health care workers who are on the front lines of this pandemic.”

What the bill would do:

This bill would immediately provide more than $357 million to purchase specialized face masks and other personal protective equipment for health care providers, first responders, and others to guard against coronavirus infection. The supplies would be paid for with the leftover amount currently remaining in an obsolete, outdated, and unused program that exists to provide financial support for political candidates, the Presidential Election Campaign Fund. The program would also be eliminated—which is something Ernst worked on previously through her Eliminating Leftover Expenses for Campaigns from Taxpayers (ELECT) Act of 2020.

The money from the Presidential Election Campaign Fund would be redirected to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Strategic National Stockpile, which stores and distributes supplies for emergency situations. Congress has previously transferred funds from the Presidential Election Campaign Fund set aside for political party candidate nominating conventions to the National Institutes of Health to support pediatric research.

Background on Ernst’s efforts to combat COVID-19:

Senator Ernst is fighting to deliver relief to all Iowans, including families, small businesses, and seniors during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are some of efforts during this challenging time:

  • Passed a “Phase 1” bipartisan package to provide additional resources to federal, state and local authorities.
  • Passed a “Phase 2” bill to provide paid sick leave for certain workers, free COVID-19 diagnostic testing for Americans, and increase support for nutrition for seniors and children
  • Called for an ‘all hands on deck’ approach to tackling the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Held a telephone town hall with thousands of Iowans to help answer some questions and hear directly from folks.
  • Participated in discussions at the State Emergency Operations Center with Governor Kim Reynolds last weekend.
  • Discussed the need to work together – at federal, state, and local level – to tackle COVID-19.
  • Published a column on everyone doing their part to protect seniors and fellow Iowans from COVID-19.

For additional information for Iowans on COVID-19, you can visit Senator Ernst’s website, which includes resources for families and individuals, small businesses, and seniors.

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