At 86 years old, U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley is among the older, more vulnerable Iowans who are supposed to be especially careful during the coronavirus pandemic.
Grassley joined his colleagues in the U.S. Capitol on Monday as lawmakers gathered in person for the first time since mid-March. The Republican from New Hartford says he’s following all the prescribed health guidelines.
“So, I do wear a mask,” Grassley says. “I wear one of these homemade masks. I think it feels better and works better for me.” Maintaining a six-foot social distance isn’t a problem, he says, as only one-fifth of his staff is in the office each day, Monday through Friday, and they’re working from home the other four days.
Many Iowans who are considered “essential” have continued going to work during the pandemic, even though they likely didn’t want to do so, and Grassley sees himself as no different. “I’m elected as a senator for the people of Iowa and I have a job to do for Iowans,” Grassley says. “They need representation during this difficult time and I’m doing it. I think I’m taking all of the precautions.”
Grassley says he’s washing his hands “all the time” and using a disinfectant on a regular basis. He says he’s back in Washington D.C. because “the people’s work must go on.” “The virus has taken tens of thousands of lives and created a real economic mess,” he says. “Congress has already passed legislation totaling nearly three-trillion dollars to combat the virus and we’ll consider additional action if it becomes necessary.”
Caucus and committee meetings are starting today in larger rooms and Grassley says they’ll spread out with just three senators each at tables that normally seat eight.