Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley learned this week he’ll become the Senate President Pro Tempore in January. It means he’ll be third in line to the presidency, behind the vice president and the speaker of the U.S. House.
Grassley says it also means he’ll need to get used to having security detail around the clock. “It’s people I’d just as soon not have around me, but when you’ve got a constitutional responsibility and you’re in line to be a successor to the President of the United States, the law requires in some cases the security service, but more often the capitol police give you security,” Grassley said.
If elected to the position after the new Congress is sworn in, Grassley will become just the second Iowan to serve as President Pro Tem in the Senate. Albert Cummins was the 18th Governor of Iowa before serving in the U.S. Senate, where he was President Pro Tem between 1919 and 1925.
The current President Pro Tempore of the Senate is Utah Republican Orrin Hatch. He plans to retire on January 3. “If you would look at the number of people in the last 100 years who have been President Pro Tem of the Senate, most of them have been the oldest member of the senate. In recent years, 80 or even 90-years-0ld when Strom Thurmond was President Pro Tem,” Grassley said. “I think that would apply to (Robert) Byrd when he was President Pro Tem and died here about 10 years ago. I think he was 92 at that time. So, I’m 85, I’m kind of a younger Pro Tem.”
This week, Grassley also announced his intention to give up the chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Committee to become chair of the Finance Committee.
Thanks to Michelle O’Neill, WVIK, additional reporting by Radio Iowa’s Pat Curtis