DES MOINES, Iowa – U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, answered questions from The Iowa Torch during his weekly Capitol Hill Report, a public affairs program his office records every week.
We asked his thoughts about the push by the Biden administration to see 5 to 11-year-olds receive the COVID-19 vaccine. The FDA last week approved a lower dose of the Pfizer vaccine for 5 to 11-year-olds to take.
“Well, they don’t have to do it. And I would be opposed to any movement by government to make families do it. I think it’s a violation of freedom. And I don’t know that there’d be any sort of rule, mandates that they would have to,” Grassley said.
He added that any mandate would likely come from school districts, but he was confident that the Iowa Legislature and Gov. Kim Reynolds would oppose any vaccine mandate pointing to the law that was just passed requiring employers who require vaccinated to grant religious and medical exemptions for their employees.
“Ultimately, parents have to decide what’s best for their kids,” Grassley added, noting that it doesn’t just apply to vaccines but also their child’s education.
“What the attorney general is doing now putting a chilling effect on parents going to talk about their kids education with the school boards,” he stated.
The Iowa Torch asked Grassley if he believed the Biden Administration’s vaccine mandate for companies with more than 100 employees was counterproductive to getting the supply chain back up and running.
“Very definitely. And first of all, I don’t think the President has the constitutional authority to do it. And if he asked Congress to give him that authority to do what, assuming that it would be constitutional, even for us to do that, I wouldn’t vote for that particular measure. But you’re right, it will,” he said.
Grassley pointed out that the trucking industry already has a shortage of drivers, and the vaccine mandate is exasperating that.
“Some trucker told me maybe 200,000 drivers they need and then you have, let’s say a third of them aren’t vaccinated, and they get fired. And the federal government’s making that happen, is that going to affect the supply chain? It’s already affecting that. Because we don’t have the drivers, it’s just going make a bad situation much, much worse,” he said.
Grassley said where this vaccine mandate would really hit home is with the loss of first responders, such as EMTs, pointing out New York City’s vaccine mandate.
“I think it goes into effect in New York. And if they lose a third of their ambulance drivers, where it’s going to hit home that this is bad policy when people start dying because the ambulances aren’t getting there fast enough, because people are being laid off from some stupid mandate by the mayor of New York,” he argued.
Grassley also told The Iowa Torch that he was not satisfied with Attorney General Merrick Garland’s answers during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing last week. Garland issued a memo stating that the U.S. Department of Justice would investigate violence directed at school boards based on a letter from the National School Board Association.
He reminded our readers about holding up Garland’s appointment to the Supreme Court in 2016.
“His performance before our committee last week shows that he wouldn’t been a very good person to have on the Supreme Court,” Grassley stated.
He pointed out that twenty state school board associations have objected to the letter.
“What he did, since the national association was working with the White House, and presumably the White House had indicated to do this, it violates the principle that he said he wasn’t going to have the DOJ be political. He was going to make independent judgment, is going to be independent of the White House. It turned out to be very political and working, as I see it, hand in glove with the White House,” Grassley stated.
He said the memo would have a chilling effect.
People might be afraid to go to exercise their freedom of speech, it ought to be withdrawn, and I’m disappointed that he’s not withdrawn it,” Grassley concluded.