Senator (R-IA) since 1981
United States Senator
State of Bacon
Representative (IA 3rd District) 1975–1981
Barbara Grassley (m. 1954)
Lee Grassley, Jay Grassley, Robin Grassley, Wendy Grassley, Michele Grassley
Us senator chuck grassley investigates pulpit pimps
Charles Ernest Grassley (born September 17, 1933) is the senior United States Senator from Iowa, serving since 1981. A member of the Republican Party, he previously served in the United States House of Representatives (1975–1981) and the Iowa state legislature (1959–1974). He was chairman of the Senate Finance Committee from January to June 2001, as well as from January 2003 to December 2006, and is now the current chairman of the Judiciary Committee of the 115th congress.
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- Early life and career
- Committee assignments
- Energy and environment
- Health care
- Russian interference in 2016 presidential election
- Religious organizations
- Medical research
- Political campaigns
- Electoral history
- Personal life
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Early life and career
Grassley was born in New Hartford, Iowa, the son of Ruth (née Corwin) and Louis Arthur Grassley, and graduated from the town high school. At Iowa State Teachers College (now the University of Northern Iowa), he earned a B.A. in 1955 and an M.A. in 1956. During his time as a student, Grassley joined the social-professional Alpha Gamma Rho Fraternity. Also during the 1950s, Grassley farmed and worked in factories in Iowa, first as a sheet metal shearer and then as an assembly line worker. He studied toward a Ph.D. in political science at the University of Iowa. In 1967–1968 Grassley taught at the now-defunct Charles City College.
As a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee, Grassley has spearheaded many probes into alleged misuse and lack of accountability of federal money. In July 2007, a Grassley-commissioned report was released claiming that more than US$1 billion in farm subsidies were sent to deceased individuals. Grassley was called a "Taxpayer Super Hero" in 2014 by the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste for his efforts to protect taxpayers. He received a 100 percent rating from the group that year and has a lifetime rating of 78 percent. Grassley was ranked as the 5th most bipartisan member of the U.S. Senate during the 114th United States Congress (and the third most bipartisan member of the U.S. Senate from the American Midwest after Indiana Senator Joe Donnelly and Ohio Senator Rob Portman) in the Bipartisan Index created by The Lugar Center and the McCourt School of Public Policy that ranks members of the United States Congress by their degree of bipartisanship (by measuring the frequency each member's bills attract co-sponsors from the opposite party and each member's co-sponsorship of bills by members of the opposite party).
On June 28, 2006, Grassley proposed legislation intended to curb sex trafficking and sex slavery in the United States by means of strict enforcement of tax laws, for example by requiring a W-2 form be filed for each prostitute managed by a pimp or other employer.
Since 1976, Grassley has repeatedly introduced measures that increase the level of taxation on American citizens living abroad, including retroactive tax hikes. Grassley was eventually able to attach an amendment to a piece of legislation that went into effect in 2006, which increased taxes on Americans abroad by targeting housing and living incentives paid by foreign employers and held them accountable for federal taxes, even though they did not currently reside in the United States. Critics of the amendment felt that the move hurt Americans competing for jobs abroad by putting an unnecessary tax burden on foreign employers. Others felt that the move was only to offset the revenue deficit caused by domestic tax cuts of the Bush Administration.
In March 2009, amid a scandal that involved AIG executives receiving large salary bonuses from the taxpayer-funded bailout of AIG, Grassley suggested that those AIG employees receiving large bonuses should follow the so-called 'Japanese example', resign immediately or commit suicide. After some criticism, he dismissed the comments as rhetoric.
In May 2009, Grassley cosponsored a resolution to amend the US Constitution to prohibit flag-burning.
When President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party proposed a health reform bill featuring mandated health insurance, Grassley opposed the health insurance mandate, saying that it was a deal breaker. In response to an audience question at an August 12, 2009, meeting in Iowa, about the end-of-life counseling provisions in the House health care bill, H.R. 3200, Grassley said people were right to fear that the government would "pull the plug on grandma." Grassley had previously supported covering end-of-life counseling, having voted for the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003, which stated: "The covered services are: evaluating the beneficiary's need for pain and symptom management, including the individual's need for hospice care; counseling the beneficiary with respect to end-of-life issues and care options, and advising the beneficiary regarding advanced care planning." In December 2009, he voted against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (commonly called ObamaCare or the Affordable Care Act).
Grassley opposed the Manchin-Toomey gun control amendment, and instead proposed alternative legislation to increase prosecutions of gun violence and increase reporting of mental health data in background checks.
As of December 2013, Grassley has cast 6,806 consecutive roll call votes, placing him second behind the all-time consecutive vote record holder, Senator William Proxmire (D-Wis). Grassley has not missed a roll call vote since 1993, when he was touring Iowa with President Bill Clinton to survey flood damage. He has, as of July 2012, cast almost 11,000 votes and had at that time only missed 35 votes in his Senate career.
In June 2015, Grassley introduced legislation to help protect taxpayers from alleged abuses by the Internal Revenue Service. The legislation was proposed in response to recent events involving alleged inappropriate conduct by employees at the IRS but was opposed by Democrats.
Since first taking office in 1981, Grassley has held public meetings in all of Iowa's 99 counties each year, even after losing honorarium payments for them in 1994. This has led to the coinage of the term "full Grassley," to describe when a United States presidential candidate visits all 99 counties of Iowa before the Iowa caucuses.
Grassley has stated that he considers himself to be pro-life and has expressed concern regarding the potential for abortions to be paid for with federal funds.
Energy and environment
Grassley has expressed concern about the impact of regulations by the Environmental Protection Agency on farming.
In September 2015, Grassley received the Dr. Harold D. Prior "Friend of Iowa Wind Energy" award from the Iowa Wind Energy Association for his commitment to supporting wind energy development in Iowa. Also in 1992, Grassley authored the federal wind energy tax credit. Grassley supports federal ethanol subsidies.
Grassley has been critical of the Affordable Care Act but does not believe the law can be completely repealed. He believes some degree of bipartisanship will be necessary to make changes to the law. He believes a solution will likely involve removing unpopular aspects of the law, like the individual mandate, while keeping popular aspects of it that deal with pre-existing conditions and the ability for children to remain on their parents' plans longer. Grassley believes that the Senate's version of the AHCA (the repeal of the ACA passed by the House), will provide health insurers certainty. Asked if not passing legislation would also provide certainty, he replied that it would, but at higher premiums. He said that with the proposed legislation premiums "maybe wouldn't go up or would go up a heck of a lot less than they would without a bill."
In 2015, Grassley voiced his opposition to a bipartisan senate bill, The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States Act, that would move cannabis from Schedule I to Schedule II. This bill would allow states with medical cannabis laws to legally prescribe it and allow for much easier research into its medical efficacy.
Grassley was given the American Legion's distinguished public service award for his support of a "strong national defense, service members, veterans and the American flag", primarily due to his support for a flag protection amendment.
Russian interference in 2016 presidential election
In February 2017, Grassley said that while Russian interference in U.S. elections was "bothersome", the United States did not have clean hands and had, for instance, interfered with the 1948 Italian election.
After President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, Grassley advised people suspicious of the Trump administration to "Suck it up and move on."
The author of the Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989, Grassley has campaigned to increase protection and provide support for "whistleblowers". He has supported a number of FBI whistleblowers, including Coleen Rowley, Sibel Edmonds, and Jane Turner, although not supporting Department of Defense whistleblower Noel Koch.
Grassley received a lifetime achievement award on May 17, 2007 from the National Whistleblower Center. In April 2014, Grassley announced plans to create a caucus in the Senate dedicated to strengthening whistleblower protections.
On November 5, 2007, Grassley announced an investigation into the tax-exempt status of six ministries under the leadership of Benny Hinn, Paula White, Eddie L. Long, Joyce Meyer, Creflo Dollar, and Kenneth Copeland by the United States Senate Committee on Finance. In letters to each ministry, Grassley asked for the ministries to divulge specific financial information to the committee to determine whether or not funds collected by each organization were inappropriately utilized by ministry heads. By the December 6, 2007 deadline, only three of the ministries had shown compliance with the Finance Committee's request. On March 11, 2008, Grassley and Finance Chairman Max Baucus sent follow-up letters to Kenneth Copeland, Creflo Dollar and Eddie Long, explaining that the Senate reserved the right to investigate the finances of their organizations under federal tax laws.
Grassley also began an investigation about unreported payments to physicians by pharmaceutical companies. Grassley led a 2008 Congressional Investigation which found that well-known university psychiatrists, who had promoted psychoactive drugs, had violated federal and university regulations by secretly receiving large sums of money from the pharmaceutical companies which made the drugs. The New York Times reported that Dr. Joseph Biederman of Harvard University had failed to report over a million dollars of income that he had received from pharmaceutical companies. Weeks later, Business Week reported that Grassley alleged that Alan Schatzberg, chair of psychiatry at Stanford University, had underreported his investments in Corcept Therapeutics, a company he founded. Dr. Schatzberg had reported only $100,000 investments in Corcept, but Grassley stated that his investments actually totalled over $6 million. Dr. Schaztberg later stepped down from his grant which is funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Similarly, Dr. Charles Nemeroff resigned as chair of the psychiatry department at Emory University after failing to report a third of the $2.8 million in consulting fees he received from GlaxoSmithKline. At the time he received these fees, Nemeroff had been principal investigator of a $3.9 million NIH grant evaluating five medications for depression manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline.
In 2008, for the first time, Grassley asked the American Psychiatric Association to disclose how much of its annual budget came from drug industry funds. The APA said that industry contributed 28% of its budget ($14 million at that time), mainly through paid advertising in APA journals and funds for continuing medical education.
Grassley was elected to his Senate seat in 1980, defeating the Democratic incumbent, John Culver. He was reelected in 1986, 1992, 1998, 2004, and 2010; he is the second longest-serving senator in Iowa history. He has remained very popular in Iowa even as the state trended Democratic. In 1992, for instance, he won a third term with 69 percent of the vote even as Bill Clinton carried the state in the presidential election.
Grassley was unopposed in the Republican primary, although some conservatives said he has drifted "too far to the left". Among those is conservative activist Bill Salier, who said "Grassley was the dominant force and had an enormous amount of loyalty. That has so eroded out from underneath him" during an interview on WHO-AM radio.
Grassley was reelected with 64.5% of the vote, Roxanne Conlin getting 33.2% of the vote. He carried every county in the state except Johnson County, which hosts the University of Iowa. He is only the second Iowan to serve six terms in the Senate; the other being Iowa's longest-serving senator, William B. Allison.
Grassley sought a seventh term in the 2016 election. Distinct from 2010, he was expected to face a strong challenge from former Democratic lieutenant governor Patty Judge, however, Grassley easily won his seventh term, winning in a landslide with over 60% of the vote as the Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump won the state by over 9%.
According to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics in 2010, the industries that have been the largest contributors to Grassley during his political career are health professionals ($1 million in contributions), insurance industry ($997,674), lawyers/law firms ($625,543) and pharmaceuticals/health products ($538,680). His largest corporate donors have been Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance, Amgen biotech company and Wells Fargo bank.
1978 Iowa 3rd District United States Congressional Election
1976 Iowa 3rd District United States Congressional Election
1974 Iowa 3rd District United States Congressional Election
1974 Iowa 3rd District United States Congressional Republican Primary Election
1972 Iowa House of Representatives 37th District Election
1970 Iowa House of Representatives 10th District Election
1966 Iowa House of Representatives Butler District Election
1964 Iowa House of Representatives Butler District Election
1962 Iowa House of Representatives Butler District Election
1960 Iowa House of Representatives Butler District Election
1958 Iowa House of Representatives Butler District Election
Grassley married Barbara Ann Speicher on August 23, 1954; the couple have five children: Lee, Wendy, Robin, Michele, and Jay. Grassley is a member of The Family, the organization that organizes the National Prayer Breakfast. His grandson Pat Grassley is a member of the Iowa House of Representatives.
In 2009, Grassley received the "Health Policy Hero" award from the National Research Center for Women & Families for his 2004 oversight of legislative reforms and accountability of the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Grassley was also named the hardest working member of Congress by The Hill newspaper in June 2010, tied with Max Baucus.