RED OAK, Iowa—After hearing from Iowans and businesses struggling as a result of COVID-19, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), a member of the Senate Small Business Committee, is joining a bipartisan group of lawmakers urging Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to defer all tariffs during the pandemic.

In the letter, Ernst and her colleagues write: “As numerous industries and individual businesses in the United States suffer extreme cash flow problems due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis, we urge you to immediately issue a directive to U.S. Customs and Border Protection to defer all tariffs for at least 90 days, or until the crisis passes.”

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, Ernst has been in constant communication with Iowans from every corner of the state to ensure they are receiving the support they need, and has heard from a number of Iowa businesses about the importance of this tariff relief.

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

Senator Ernst has fought to deliver relief to all Iowans during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are some of her efforts:

  • Delivered major wins for Iowa’s workers, employers, health care industry, and more in the bipartisan Phase 3 package.
  • Supported  the “Phase 1” bipartisan package to provide additional resources to federal, state and local authorities.
  • Helped pass the “Phase 2” bill to provide paid sick leave, free COVID-19 diagnostic testing, and increased support for nutrition for seniors and children.
  • Called for an ‘all hands on deck’ approach to tackling the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Urged the Senate to prioritize relief for hospitals, community health centers, and workers on the front lines.
  • Announced a proposal to immediately redirect the over $350M in the Presidential Campaign Election Fund to be used to purchase specialized face masks and personal protective equipment.
  • Asked the State Department to immediately act to get Iowans stranded abroad back home.
  • Called for crackdown and proper education on scammers targeting seniors and at-risk Iowans during COVID-19.
  • Held a telephone town hall with thousands of Iowans to help answer some questions and hear directly from folks.
  • Hosted another telephone town hall with Iowa’s seniors and elderly community.
  • 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.

A full text of the bipartisan letter is below:

March 26, 2020

The Honorable Steven Mnuchin

Secretary of the Treasury

1500 Pennsylvania Ave., NW

Washington, DC 20220

Dear Secretary Mnuchin,

As numerous industries and individual businesses in the United States suffer extreme cash flow problems due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis, we urge you to immediately issue a directive to U.S. Customs and Border Protection to defer all tariffs for at least 90 days, or until the crisis passes.

As you know, the coronavirus is causing major damage to the U.S. economy. While Congress has now enacted a wide variety of economic aid, many industries and businesses, including small businesses, will still face significant cash-flow problems. Retailers have already had to close more than 47,000 stores in the United States, and manufacturers have shut their doors to protect workers. We anticipate that hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of American workers at retail companies and the thousands of companies that supply them will be furloughed in the coming weeks. Additional measures to help businesses ensure they have enough liquidity to weather the crisis are necessary.

At such a moment when Congress has clearly indicated that deferring employer taxes should be a part of the U.S. response to the crisis, the Treasury Department should direct that all tariffs will be deferred for at least 90 days and, more broadly, until the companies paying them can emerge from the ongoing crisis.

Sincerely,

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