Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says partisanship is a problem in the U.S. Senate, but it’s not as bad as Senator Evan Bayh is making it sound. Bayh, a Democrat from Indiana, announced Monday he would not seek re-election because of the chamber’s environment of “bitter, brain-dead” partisanship. Grassley, a Republican, says there will always be disagreements, but they’re not that severe.
“I have good working relationships with a lot of other members of the Senate and I don’t believe I have any enemies, and if I do, I don’t want to know who they are,” Grassley says. “There needs to be a lot of improvement. Each of us can try to do that. I hope that the way I’ve done business in the past helps along that line because that’s surely my intention.” Grassley says, “Most everybody in the Senate is partisan to some degree, but just because you have strong philosophical feelings doesn’t mean that you can’t work together.”
He says the media will often focus on political bickering, not success stories, typically making Congress appear chaotic. “It looks that way to the public at large because people who are journalists tend to stress controversy,” Grassley says. “You don’t hear about the good working relationships that a lot of people have across party lines.”
Because of the way Congress is portrayed on television, in particular, Grassley says the American people “think we’re always in dispute and there’s never any cooperation, and at least as far as the Senate’s concerned, that’s just not true.” “It’s more partisan than it has been in the past but I don’t think it’s a poisonous partisanship,” Grassley says. “Is there too much partisanship? Yes, but I also believe that it can be corrected and that it’s not as bad as it’s portrayed in the press.”
Iowans may recall Bayh from previous presidential elections. He was considered as a possible running mate for Democrats John Kerry in 2004 and Barack Obama in 2008.