Grassley OK with term limit proposal, but balks at appointing senators

Sen. Chuck Grassley responds to a comment at a roundtable discussion with Sen. Joni Ernst and others Sept. 2 in Cedar Ra
Sen. Chuck Grassley responds to a comment at a roundtable discussion with Sen. Joni Ernst and others Sept. 2 in Cedar Rapids. Grassley said Wednesday he supports term limits but opposes other Senate reforms proposed by Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Sen. Chuck Grassley, in his seventh term as a member of the U.S. Senate, supports term limits for members of Congress.

Since Grassley was elected to the Senate in 1980, he has voted for term limit proposals. However, those plans either didn’t make it out of committee or were tabled when they reached the floor. In the House, term limits were supported by a majority of representatives, “but came way short” of the two-thirds majority needed to begin the process of amending the U.S. Constitution, Grassley said Wednesday.

“I still support it,” the New Hartford Republican told reporters when asked about a proposal from Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse to reform the Senate. Sasse, a Republican running for a second term, has called for reforms including removing television cameras from committee hearings. The former college president also suggested housing senators in dormitories while they are in Washington.

His plan would abolish the 17th Amendment calling for the popular election of senators. Before its ratification in 1913, senators were appointed by state lawmakers.

However, Grassley wants no part of that.

“I would not want to go back away from the popular election of senators,” said Grassley, who served in the Iowa House before being elected to Congress in 1974.

While he agrees with Sasse that the Senate is “not working very effectively,” Grassley said direct election of senators is “working perfectly.”

“When we talk about senators being representative of the people, it’s better to be a representative of the people than, in my case, being a representative of the majority of 150 state legislators,” Grassley said.

The Iowa House has 100 representatives and the Senate has 50 members.

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