He was first elected to public office in 1958 and on Tuesday, Iowans voted to send Republican Chuck Grassley back to Washington D.C. for his seventh term in the U.S. Senate.
While the presidential race was volatile at times, Grassley says he looks forward to helping unify everyone in 2017 and to working with Donald Trump’s administration.
“Trump struck the right tone in his speech last night,” Grassley says. “He is a builder who knows success that comes from getting people to work together, cooperation, and he will seek that.”
Grassley says there was a sentiment among many fellow Republicans when Democrat Barack Obama first won the White House — that if the president doesn’t succeed, America won’t succeed. He hopes partisan divisions can be set aside for the sake of the country’s progress under Trump’s leadership.
“I hope we can all get behind him as he uses his skills like building a building to rebuild America,” Grassley says. “I guess I would hope we all give him a chance. We need him to succeed.”
Grassley has worked with Hillary Clinton in several capacities over the years, including when she was in the U.S, Senate. Grassley says he was surprised the Democratic presidential nominee only called Trump on the phone last night and didn’t give a public concession speech or address her supporters.
“I’m very concerned,” Grassley says. “I think that there was such an expectation of winning that she probably didn’t know what to say.”
The U.S. Supreme Court has operated with only eight justices since the death of Antonin Scalia back in February and Grassley says it will be at least two more months before that vacancy is filled. Grassley says there will be no movement on the issue until January 20th at the earliest, when Trump takes the oath of office.
Grassley says, “Anything sooner than that is not a possibility since a couple months ago, Senator McConnell said that there wouldn’t be anything done until the new president’s sworn in.”
President Obama nominated U.S. appeals court judge Merrick Garland to fill the opening on the nation’s high court in March, but Grassley, a Republican who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, has refused to consider Garland. Grassley has long maintained the -next- president should make the choice.
As for the lame duck session of Congress that is now before us, Grassley says preventing a government shutdown is the one thing he’d like to see accomplished.
Grassley says, “Funding government with a final appropriation bill before December 9th that will carry us through September 30th.” The deadline looms a month away as federal agencies are now are funded only through December 9th. President Obama signed a continuing resolution back in September that extended the funding into December.
Grassley is 83 years old and will be almost 90 before his next six-year term in the U-S Senate is complete. In this morning’s one-on-one interview with Radio Iowa, Grassley was asked if he might be contemplating trying to break the late Senator Strom Thurmond’s lengthy service record.
“Oh, you’re asking me if I’m going to run again in six years?” Grassley says. “I think what you’d better think about, why don’t you ask me in four years?”