CEDAR RAPIDS — United States Senate President Pro Tempore Chuck Grassley may use the moment tonight while he’s escorting President Donald Trump into the House of Representatives chamber to deliver a message, but it won’t be about the annual State of the Union address.
“I think I will have a chance to whisper in his ear, but it wouldn’t be about what he should say tonight because it’d be too late for that,” the Iowa Republican said Wednesday. “But I would be encouraging a free-trade agreement with the United Kingdom.”
He won’t be the only Iowans whispering in the president’s ear, Grassley added. For the second time, Sen. Joni Ernst, vice chairwoman of the Senate Republican caucus, will be part of the president’s escort when he delivers the State of the Union address at 8 p.m.
Grassley expects the president to use the speech to highlight “remarkable progress” the country has made in the past three years.
“By nearly every metric, our nation is better off than it was before,” he said. “Unemployment is lower. Economic growth is higher. Wages are rising, especially for blue-collar workers versus the management staff. And our armed forces have been strengthened.
“Overall, I think as I’ve read polls, there’s seems to be a strong sense of optimism across our country, probably greater than we’ve seen in many years,” Grassley said.
There’s also unfinished business and Grassley, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, hopes the president’s agenda includes the bipartisan bill he has been pushing to lower prescription drug prices.
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“And then something that we’ve been talking about for three years — we ought to get to work on infrastructure, like our roads, bridges, waterways, broadband,” he added.
Grassley would like to hear an appeal for bipartisanship and national unity “after our divisive impeachment process.”
“While the country wants us to focus on issues that affect their daily lives, Washington has instead focused on the bitter battle of impeachment,” he said. “I think Trump will be right to call on Congress to move past the national nightmare of impeachment, and encourage Congress get back to the people’s work. There’s a lot left to be done this year.”
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