Grassley sees public service as way to have 'wider impact'

Senator makes several stops in Cedar Rapids area

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CEDAR RAPIDS — As he seeks a seventh term in the U.S. Senate, Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley continues to see public service as “the best way to help improve our society.”

“It’s an opportunity to make a better country,” he told members of the Cedar Rapids Daybreak Rotary Club, when asked why he is running for re-election.

It’s not the only way to contribute, but the “difference about government, I suppose, is when you make a decision you have a wider impact,” Grassley said.

That’s true, said Sam Roecker, spokesman for Grassley’s Democratic challenger, Patty Judge.

“That’s why it’s so unfortunate that he’s single-handedly keeping the Supreme Court vacancy open and failing working families in Iowa by playing political games instead of doing his job,” Roecker said. “Patty Judge has always worked to build consensus and do the right thing for Iowa. Sadly, Chuck Grassley has changed and he’s not working for Iowa anymore.”

Grassley’s visit to the Rotary wasn’t a campaign event, but the election figured in a number of the questions Grassley fielded in about 35 minutes with the Rotarians. In one case, he was thanked for “blocking President Barack Obama’s appointment of another liberal judge to the Supreme Court.”

“Well, since he didn’t ask a question and it’s very controversial, I’ll move on,” Grassley said eliciting laughter from his audience.

When asked about what differentiates him from Judge, Grassley noted one policy difference and one more philosophical.

He contrasted his opposition to WOTUS — the Waters of the United States — with Judge’s support for additional regulation of waterways. He said under WOTUS, which has been blocked by a federal court, 97 percent of Iowa land would be subject to Environmental Protection Agency rules.

“A mud puddle would qualify as a navigable waterway,” he said.

Grassley also suggested that Judge would follow the philosophy of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton that the solution to any problem is “more taxes, more regulation, more spending.” That inhibits risk-taking and investment, resulting in a stagnant economy, he said.

In responses to questions, Grassley, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, called for constitutional protections for gun ownership and against law enforcement seizures of civil assets such as cash and vehicles.

He believes at least 51 senators would have supported legislation to ban people on the Department of Homeland Security’s no-fly list from buying a gun as long as there was a “constitutional due process approach,” so people would know why they were on the list and be able to challenge that designation. However, there were not 60 votes to end debate and vote on the legislation.

Reforming civil assets forfeiture laws is part of his sentencing reform legislation he hopes to get passed before the end of the year. Current laws allow law enforcement to sell seized assets and keep the proceeds.

“We can’t have the government seizing anything they want,” Grassley said. “There has to be a judicial process.”

Grassley also visited Rockwell Collins and ITC Midwest where he had question-and-answer session with employees at both places before hosting a roundtable discussion on foster child care Friday afternoon.

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