DES MOINES, Iowa – U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, was interviewed by Tom Williamson of KIIC Radio in Albia and Jake Bourgeois with the Anamosa Journal-Eureka for his weekly Capitol Hill Report.
Williamson led off with a question about what Grassley thought the U.S. response to protests in Cuba should be.
“Support the people that are asking for democracy, America stands for democracy. We think it’s a moral thing to do. In other words, government ought to be protecting the people, not taking advantage of the people. That’s the way our government is set up, and we ought to be promoting that around the world. We made a mistake in 2009 or 10 when we didn’t support such a movement in Iran. And we should make sure that we let the people of Cuba know that we are with them,” he answered.
Bourgeois asked Grassley whether there has been movement on increasing transparency in the cattle market.
“Four big packers control 80 percent of the slaughter, and that 80 percent of the slaughter, less than 20 percent of it can be negotiated on a daily basis,” he said.
Grassley said that farmers want to get a fair price but don’t.
“He didn’t deal with the legislation I put in, but, generally speaking, I want to compliment Secretary Vilsack for a very aggressive approach to bringing more competition to agriculture. And by bringing more competition to agriculture, he’s going to make sure that farmers get the best price for their input and get the best price for the product when it leaves the farm. And we generally accept the proposition that government ought to stay out of regulating business. But the government does have a responsibility to make sure that the free marketplace is working,” he continued.
Williamson asked Grassley about President Joe Biden’s plan to raise the capital gains tax and end the step-up basis provision on the federal inheritance tax. He noted the impact that makes on passing the family farm down to the next generation and wanted to know if Republicans could mount resistance to it.
He said Republicans were working to resist any tax increases.
“I’m going to agree with you that it’s going to be difficult to pass on a family farm from one generation to another. If the stepped-up basis was done away with, I’m not in favor of doing away with it. I’m going to answer your question with two ifs. If we keep what we call regular order in the United States Senate requiring 60 votes, and 50 Republicans would say, already more or less said, that they were going to stick together on it. They’ll never get 60 votes to do away with a stepped-up basis. Now there’s another way called reconciliation that’s only been used twice in the last five years. So it isn’t used very often, and it can only be used in tax matters and spending matters. If the Democrats stuck together, all 50 of them, and the vice president broke the tie; they could do what we’re afraid and advocating they not do,” Grassley explained.
He added that he did not believe every Democrat was willing to eliminate it.
Bourgeois asked about the status of bills passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee requiring cameras at the Supreme Court and other federal courtrooms.
Grassley said it is up to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to bring the bills up for debate since they on the calendar.
“I don’t think they’re going to come up near term. I hope, over the longer term, they will come up because it’s been something that I’ve been fighting for, for a long period of time. And, and we’ve got them out of committee now. And I think the time has arrived, and I hope we can get cameras in the courtroom,” he said.
Williamson asked Grassley about his efforts to get the Biden Administration to appoint an acting inspector general to the Federal Housing Finance Agency.
“We need to get an inspector general in there that can do the job of an inspector general, because basically, the Inspector General is is a person that’s going to make sure that all the laws are followed in the money spent, according to congressional intent. So just having an inspector general on the job is very important to see that the agencies run effectively,” he answered.
Bourgeois asked Grassley about a bill he co-sponsored that President Biden recently signed that would keep the whistleblower fund with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission funded.
“Because the fund would run out of money, there was a limit of how much money could be paid out when fraud was found, and you wouldn’t know about the fraud at the whistleblower hadn’t brought it to the government’s attention. And without that, then you’re going to have more fraud. So if you want to protect the taxpayers from fraud, protect the consumer from fraud or the people that deal in commodities from fraud, you want to make sure that the whistleblower program is rewarded accordingly,” he stated.
Williamson asked Grassley about his opposition to President Biden firing the Social Security Commissioner Andrew Saul, appointed by former President Donald Trump, whose term did not end until 2025.
He noted that the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly confirmed him with 87 votes, and it is supposed to be a six-year term.
“So the President is politicizing the Social Security by doing it. And the reason he’s doing it is the unions and of Social Security employees were mad at this guy because he was making the Social Security Administration more user-friendly and more efficient; get the job done without wasting taxpayers’ money,” Grassley said. “So presumably, when you do your job, change an organization, so can we be responsive to the clientele, in this case, the senior citizens of America, then you’re rewarded for it by being fired.”
“A six-year term ought to be a six-year term,” he added.
For the last question, Bourgeois asked Grassley about his fellowship program for veterans and why it is important to him. Veterans in the program serve as liaisons to veterans in the community.
“What they do is they go out into the community on my behalf so my office can faithfully serve veterans,” he answered.
Listen to the interview below: