WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, invited Nikki Thunder with Nikki Thunder, the news director of KCHE Radio in Cherokee, Iowa, and Shane Vander Hart, the founder and editor of The Iowa Torch, to interview him for his weekly Capitol Hill Report on Monday.
The topics included:
- Mask mandates.
- His record of accomplishments since being in office.
- Mental health awareness month.
- 2022 election.
- The crisis at the southern border.
- The Nord Stream 2 pipeline.
Listen to the interview:
Here is the transcript of the interview:
Nikki Thunder: “Thanks, Senator, for taking time to talk with us today. Say, my first question is about the mask mandate, and where do you see things going right now, during this time of the pandemic, as it’s kind of tailing down?”
Chuck Grassley: “Well, if you follow the science, the science says, under most circumstances, you don’t need a mask anymore, particularly if you’re outside unless some business would require a mask. I think there’s some people in the country that are not willing to give up the mask. And if they want to wear a mask, anybody can wear a mask; anytime they wanted to, they could have wore a mask even if we hadn’t had the pandemic. But I encourage Iowans to be vaccinated, so you don’t have to wear the mask and you can be pretty free to be like you were pre-pandemic. Shane?”
Shane Vander Hart: “Yeah, you’ve been in Washington since 1975. I believe. In that time, what would you say is your greatest single accomplishment? And what are you most proud of?”
Grassley: “Oh, I would say that there’s… I don’t want to say the single greatest accomplishment. I would say getting Congress covered by the laws that we had exempted ourselves from between 1938 and 1995 when I got the Congressional Accountability Act passed. The Tax Cuts of 2001, which at that time were the biggest tax cuts in the history of the country. Now they’ve been passed by the 2017 tax cuts.
“I’m a free trader. I’ve been involved in all the free-trade legislation. I’ve been involved in pension reform. I was a leader on the Part D of Medicare Prescription Drug programs. I’m going to, hopefully before this Congress is over, be a leader on getting prescription drug prices down. And I’m the father of the wind energy tax credit. And the last thing I will mention, although I hope it’s not too long, too many for you, The False Claims Act of 1986 that has brought back into the federal treasury $63 billion of fraudulently taken money. And I’ll add to that 6 billion along the same lines of what I got for whistleblowers, that turn in corporations that are evading taxes that’s brought in about 6 billion.”
Thunder: “Senator, during this mental health awareness month, can you tell us how you’re working to raise awareness for mental wellness?”
Grassley: “Yeah, the number one thing is I voted about five years ago of the reform of mental health legislation, which quite frankly, most of the stuff dealing with mental health comes through state legislatures and state governments. But the federal government’s got a big role to play, particularly what we do for mental health in the VA system for veterans, and things of that nature.
“Also, I think that, that we have a lot of problems dealing with, with drugs and substance abuse, and sometimes it’s carried over to the mental health issues. And one of the things I worked with Iowans in Decatur, County about resources for seniors as an example, if you want to get down to the grassroots of my work in that area. Shane?”
Vander Hart: “Yeah, how close are you to deciding whether you run again? And what factors are going into that decision?”
Grassley: “That’s a good question I get quite frequently. I’m going to make my mind up sometime this fall. So I’ve been saying September, October, November, that quite frankly, a year to campaign is enough.
“And, you know, in the meantime, I can’t be thinking about exactly when I’m going to announce whether I’m going to run or not. I’m working hard for Iowans. I enjoy my work. I get to the office at six in the morning, and generally, it’s six before we leave it at night. And so and I still go to the 99 counties every year, and until I had COVID in November, I cast 8927 votes without missing a vote. And that’s a record. Yeah, a record for all senators since 1789.”
Thunder: “Senator, what can you tell us about the closure of ICE detention facilities?”
Grassley: “Well, I think first of all, when you talk about the facilities that you see on the television every night, and they cleared some of them out. It was such an embarrassment for the administration that they had to do something. And so they’re disseminating them around the country.
“And then there’s some other facilities that are being shut down because quite frankly, there’s some indication of drug abuse, and, and sexual abuse, and maybe you name any kind of abuse, but there’s evidence of those things. And then maybe some of (them) being shut down because they were embarrassed in one facility I was in having 4000 people where probably only 250 people should have been.
“And so, they’re, particularly on unaccompanied children, they’re trying to get out to under the direction of the Health and Human Services instead of the Department of Homeland Security. And so they’re being distributed around the country. There’s some evidence that the government’s flying people like we’re investigating in Des Moines. I don’t have an answer on that investigation. But I’ve heard the same thing of flights into Nashville and then buses taking people to other places close to Nashville as an example. So I think it’s an embarrassment to them, and they’re trying to get them around so that, around the country, so that it doesn’t look like a mass of people.
“In other words, if you put 100 people here and 100 people there, it looks a lot better than 4000 people in one place. What it amounts to is we need robust enforcement of our immigration laws.”
Grassley: “Well, first of all, I think that he’s gonna run into opposition from Congress on it. And there’s some question whether or not he’s enforcing the sanctions laws that he ought to enforce. He ought to be embarrassed that he’s helping one of Putin’s buddies that’s ahead of this German company by sanctioning them and then waiving the sanction so that the pipeline can go ahead.
“He ought to be embarrassed that he is not helping; he’s hurting Ukraine when all the natural gas going to Europe has to go through Ukraine, and that can help their economy. He ought to be embarrassed to that he’s helping build a pipeline under the Baltic to Germany from Russia when he shuts down the (XL Keystone Pipeline) leaving 10,000 people unemployed.
“At the same time, the governor of Michigan, who’s a Democrat, is trying to shut down line five coming from Canada, into the United States, and then some of going back to Ontario, because that goes under the Great Lakes. Why would you want to help Putin, particularly when the last four years Democrats have been complaining because somehow Trump was too close to Putin? What we know isn’t true, but that’s what they were always talking about. And in Congress. I’ve joined a bill by Senator Kramer in efforts on these sanctions just because of what the President recently did. Okay, thank you all very much, good bye.”
Thunder: “Thank you Senator, bye bye.”
Vander Hart: “Thanks.”