Grassley sees signs of bipartisanship in Senate
Bills on human trafficking, farm bankruptcies advance
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James Q. Lynch
Divisions between the GOP-controlled White House and Congress, and opposition from minority Democrats on immigration, tax and health care overhauls may get the headlines, Sen. Chuck Grassley said, but he insists bipartisan reforms are being addressed.
Examples A and B, according to Iowa’s senior senator and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, include unanimous passage of bills he sponsored with Democrats to address human trafficking and farm bankruptcies.
“Bipartisan work pays off, but controversy gets the attention,” the Iowa Republican said Wednesday.
The Senate recently gave unanimous approval to a bill he and California Democrat Sen. Dianne Feinstein worked on to renew existing programs that make federal resources available to human trafficking victims and establish new prevention, prosecution and collaboration initiatives to help bring the perpetrators to justice.
“The tragedy of human trafficking happens in communities across our country right under our noses,” he said. “So our successful, bipartisan work will help Iowans, Californians and all Americans address this problem.”
Likewise, he worked with Minnesota Democrat Sen. Al Franken on the Family Farmer Bankruptcy Clarification Act, which the Senate approved unanimously.
Many farmers’ assets are tied up in land, making it hard to reorganize debt without filing for bankruptcy, Grassley said.
“That led some farmers in Iowa and Minnesota and elsewhere to lose businesses that had been in the family for generations,” he said. “So despite some of our disagreements and headlines — and remember that controversy makes news more than people getting along — the Senate still is plugging away with bipartisan reforms that will help Americans.”
The fate of the bills becoming law is uncertain.
Grassley also told reporters he expects Senate action on DACA — or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals — that has protected from deportation about 800,000 people who were brought illegally to the United States as children by their immigrant families.
A hearing on legislation addressing former President Barack Obama’s 2012 executive order could be held in the next few weeks.
He’s aware of at least two staff-level meetings on DACA legislation, and earlier Wednesday he met with a senator, who Grassley would not name, who is sponsoring DACA legislation.
Grassley has not discussed DACA with the White House, but staff members have talked to those in the administration who deal with it.
“I don’t feel left out because this bill has to go through my committee and I don’t have to pay too much attention to the White House,” Grassley said. “I’m willing to listen to their points of view, but what I’ve got to do is put together a bill that can get 60 votes.”
Although legislation can be passed with a simple majority, in most cases, Senate rules require 60 votes to a bill to the floor.
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