CORONAVIRUS

Sen. Chuck Grassley looking forward to again working with colleagues in person

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing with Acting Homeland Security Secretary
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing with Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan on Capitol Hill on June 11, 2019 in Washington, D.C. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images/TNS)

After working remotely — “very remotely, I might say” — from his Butler County farm for five weeks, U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley is looking forward to working with his colleagues in person.

Although the coronavirus crisis is “far from over,” the Senate will be back in session next week because “the people’s business must go on.”

“I’m not kidding you,” the Republican senator told reporters on his weekly call. “There’s no shortage of work to be done in the United States Senate.”

Congress will consider further spending to combat the virus and to set the stage for an economic recovery. It already has appropriated about $3 trillion,

Taking a historical perspective on the situation, Grassley expressed confidence that although the coronavirus has claimed tens of thousands of lives and caused economic havoc not seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s, the nation will “emerge a stronger and more prosperous country than ever before.”

The economic situation is “not the fault of the 30 million people unemployed, it’s not the fault of the small businesses,” Grassley said. Rather it was the government-ordered shutdown of businesses that caused unemployment. Now it is government’s responsibility to reopen the economy so people can go back to work, he said.

One of Grassley’s priorities, whether he’s in Washington or on the farm, will be oversight to prevent waste, fraud and abuse of the $3 trillion already appropriated.

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“I’ve got a reputation for being an equal-opportunity overseer of the enforcement of the law,” he said. “So I’m going to monitor the ongoing public health and economic situations for my constituents in Iowa, but also across the country to make sure Congress is fulfilling its constitutional duty to govern, (and) the checks and balances on seeing laws are enforced are part of that.”

Although he is looking forward to working with his colleagues in person, Grassley said the situation in Washington “is more dangerous, (we’ve) got to be more cautious.”

More than half of the senators, including Grassley, are older than 65. One has contracted the coronavirus.

Although no specific guidance has been given senators and their staffs, Grassley said they will be following social distancing guidelines and other recommendations of Capitol Hill medical personnel.

“I’m not concerned about it,” he said. “We’re going to take the proper precautions.”

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

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