Longtime U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, was the only Republican in the tri-state area’s congressional delegation to vote in favor of the $1 trillion infrastructure bill.

With President Joe Biden signing the bill into law last week, Grassley responded to questions from the TH during his weekly call with Iowa press by justifying his support for the historic investment. He said Iowans should not be surprised by his vote since he has supported large-scale infrastructure investments in the past and because many Iowans asked him for it.

“(Former) President (Donald) Trump was trying to get $2 trillion for four years but didn’t get it,” he said. “The whole time I was holding my county meetings, I heard from a lot of people about when I was going to get an infrastructure bill. We didn’t get it done. They come in this administration, in a bipartisan way, with half that amount. I voted for it because of what I’ve been hearing from Iowans, especially on this bill.”

Grassley listed the many organizations — from the Iowa Soybean Association to the Iowa Airport Association — that supported and asked him to vote in favor of the now law.

“I’ve been hearing from county supervisors and the Iowa Department of Transportation how bad we are (regarding bridge conditions),” he said. “The DOT in Iowa is saying how helpful this additional $4.2 billion (for highways) is. ... I hope that I’m representing the people and the needs of Iowans by that ‘yes’ vote that I cast.”

The senator insisted that his job now will be to hold the Biden administration accountable. In particular, he highlighted the $65 billion for broadband expansion nationwide.

“We don’t just pass legislation or appropriate money — we have a constitutional responsibility to be a check on the executive branch of government,” he said. “We have to make sure they carry out the law as Congress wrote it. ... One of the key things that is in the expenditure of (broadband) money is to make sure the first priority is to go to unserved areas and the second priority is to underserved areas. I’m going to make sure that doesn’t go to places that have good service already.”

‘Build Back Better’

However, Grassley was right with his fellow Republicans in condemning congressional Democrats’ $1.7 trillion “Build Back Better” further spending plan, which passed the House last week.

“I oppose Democrats’ reckless tax & spending spree that just passed the House. It’s wrong for America to spend $1.9 TRILLION on social spending when inflation is at a 30(-year) high, The Senate should throw partisan bill in garbage & do drug pricing/paid family leave, etc. in a bipartisan way,” he posted to Twitter.

U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson, R-Iowa, voted against the bill and had strong words against it afterward.

“Americans can’t afford Speaker (Nancy) Pelosi’s radical agenda, and generations of Iowans shouldn’t have to pay for it,” she said in a statement. “... Iowans are already paying more at the grocery store, double for gas and bracing for higher energy bills this winter — this legislation will make life even less affordable and more difficult for working families.”

Republican Derrick Van Orden, running again for Wisconsin’s Third Congressional District, went further in his response.

“This Big Government Socialist Spending Bill is just further evidence that the slow walk to socialism has become a 100-yard sprint in Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi’s America,” he said in a release.

U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Illinois, though, took to Fox News to extol the job-creating virtues she said her party’s spending plans will have.

“We’re going to be creating about a million-and-a-half jobs per year under the infrastructure plan that we passed and our Build Back Better Act,” she said. “These are good-paying jobs. These are jobs where people can afford to take care of their families. So, I look at this as an investment in America.”

Parties celebrate UAW deal with Deere

Both of Iowa’s state political parties were quick to celebrate the ending last week of a strike by United Auto Workers members employed by Deere & Co.

“I’m so proud of the UAW members at John Deere who’ve spent the last few weeks striking for a fair contract,” said Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Ross Wilburn in a statement about a half-hour after the union vote results were announced. “Their efforts have not just made life better for their families, but they have shown all of us the value of standing together to fight for a better future.”

Democrats had made a big show of support for striking workers throughout the strike, including Dubuque state lawmakers and candidates for national office. U.S. Senate candidate and former U.S. Rep. Abby Finkenauer, D-Iowa, drew fire from the National Republican Senate Committee over her support.

But, following the vote, the Republican Party of Iowa also celebrated the strike’s end.

“The great Iowa products, made by John Deere workers, help farmers feed and fuel the world,” said a GOP statement issued about 15 minutes after the one from the Iowa Democratic Party. “The men and women who build these tremendous machines are the same ones who are the backbone of many communities across Iowa.”

Grassley, Durbin law enforcement bills signed

Biden signed several bills last week supported by the combined muscle of Grassley and U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, through their longtime collaboration on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

One ensures that U.S. federal officials serving outside the country would be protected by U.S. federal criminal laws. Another improves death and disability benefits for first responders. Another ensures privacy for law enforcement officers seeking assistance from peer-counseling programs.

“With our country in the midst of sometimes fraught discussions about how to best ensure accountability throughout law enforcement and make our communities safer, it is important that we continue offering support for those law enforcement officers who are serving us with dignity and integrity,” Durbin said in a release.

Endorsements

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Iowa endorsed Iowa Rep. Liz Mathis, D-Hiawatha, in her bid for Iowa’s Second Congressional District — in which Clayton, Dubuque and Delaware counties have been placed via redistricting.

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