CEDAR RAPIDS — Sen. Chuck Grassley admits some nervousness with the current state of trade policies but said farmers he spoke with during recent meetings in Iowa aren’t abandoning President Donald Trump.
Farmers have “great anxiety” about the ongoing tariff situation, Grassley told reporters Wednesday. However, “panic” would not accurately describe what he heard from farmers at 20 question-and-answer sessions Grassley has held during the Senate’s abbreviated state work session.
The Farm Bill, trade and renewable fuels were among the most common topics in those meetings, along with questions about the Supreme Court — “not as many as I thought we would get” — and immigration, he said.
“I don’t find people really giving up on Trump,” Grassley said. “I never had any farmers tell me they were throwing in the sponge on Trump because of his trade policies. They want him to succeed. Some have even gone so far as to say that even though there is some hurt now, he’s doing the right thing. They just hope he gets it done with pretty fast.”
That pretty much describes where Grassley’s at, too.
“As a farmer and a senator who has to speak up for my constituents, I’d have to say I’m nervous, but I haven’t thrown in the sponge either,” Grassley said.
He sees Trump’s meeting with the president of the European Union as a success and is encouraged by reports that a trade deal with Mexico will be completed as early as this month.
“If we get an agreement with Mexico, they think it will fall in pretty quickly with Canada,” he said.
Resolving differences with China may take longer.
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“China’s been stealing our intellectual property for decades,” he said, and the farmers he talked to know something must be done about that.
The Senate is in session rather than continuing the summer recess “because we didn’t get all our work done when we should have.”
“Hopefully, we accomplish something,” Grassley said.
That could include confirmation of Trump’s nominees to federal courts other than the Supreme Court. As chairman of the Judiciary Committee, he plans to start hearings on Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nominations after Labor Day.
He expressed hope the Senate will take up immigration-related legislation — the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and the Flores rule on separating families that enter the country illegally — before the November election. Comprehensive immigration legislation will have to wait “until we show people we have border security.”
For him, that would include a border wall in some places, an electronic “wall” elsewhere, more Border Patrol agents, implementation of E-Verify and ending what he called the catch-and-release policy toward people entering the country illegally.
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