Government

Grassley now three heartbeats from presidency

Senate pro tempore last held by an Iowan century ago

Sen. Chuck Grassley
Sen. Chuck Grassley

Sen. Chuck Grassley was sworn in Thursday as the Senate’s new president pro tempore, a position that puts the Iowa Republican third in the line of presidential succession.

As The Gazette reported in November, Grassley, 85, was nominated for the post by members of the 116th Congress’ Senate GOP caucus. He succeeds the retired Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah and is the first Iowan to hold the post in nearly a century.

The new responsibilities include opening the Senate each day, recognizing senators to speak and maintaining order.

“I plan on using this platform to promote important principles I have stood for during my entire Senate career, including transparency, accountability to the people and oversight of the federal government,” he wrote in an op-ed.

Grassley also is becoming chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, giving up the chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which he held for four years. In that role, he oversaw the committee confirmations of Supreme Court nominees Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.

The only other Iowan to serve as president pro tempore was Sen. Albert Cummins, who was first chosen in 1919.

Cummins, who worked in the Clayton County Recorder’s Office before serving as Iowa governor, held the post in the 66th, 67th, 68th and 69th congresses.

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The Senate pro tempore is behind the vice president and speaker of the House in the line of presidential succession.

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