Government

Not his 'besties,' but Bernie Sanders calls Senators Grassley, Ernst 'nice people'

Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders of Vermont speaks to supporters during a campaign rally on Tuesday evening, July 2, 2019 at the Iowa City Recreation Center in downtown Iowa City, IA. (Ben Roberts/Freelance)
Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders of Vermont speaks to supporters during a campaign rally on Tuesday evening, July 2, 2019 at the Iowa City Recreation Center in downtown Iowa City, IA. (Ben Roberts/Freelance)

IOWA CITY — Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has political differences with Iowa’s Republican senators, Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst, but it’s nothing personal.

“We’re not best buddies, no,” he said during an interview Wednesday. “I like both of them on a personal level. They are very nice people.”

The 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful, who had a rally Tuesday night and opened a campaign office Wednesday in Iowa City, said he has a relationship with both Iowa senators.

“We chat occasionally,” Sanders said of his relationship with them, but it’s mostly as they pass in the hallways of the Capitol. Sometimes the relationship goes further. He’s worked with both Ernst and Grassley on a number of bills through the years.

Earlier this year, Sanders joined Grassley and others to reintroduce the Military Justice Improvement Act. They joined forces on legislation calling for the Government Accountability Office to conduct a study of the Department of Defense accounting systems, on the Justice for Survivors of Sexual Assault Act to clear the rape kit backlog and the Employ America Act to prohibit major firms that lay off large numbers of American workers from hiring cheaper foreign labor through temporary guest worker programs.

Ernst and Sanders also have worked together on legislations to bring greater transparency to the Department of Defense, ensure small refinery exemptions to the Renewable Fuel Standard program are accounted for and investigate the U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Gymnastics regarding sexual abuse of athletes.

However, there’s a limit to Sanders’ cooperation because “I don’t think their views represent the views of working people of this country.”

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If he were elected president, Sanders said he would be coming back to Iowa to pressure Ernst and Grassley to support his agenda.

“As president, I will come back here and we’ll have a whole lot of people out here in Des Moines or Iowa City saying to the senators that this is what people demand,” he said. “I will be proud to come to Iowa to make that case, to explain what we are doing, and to urge the people to tell their members of Congress to represent them and not just wealthy campaign contributors.”

l Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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