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Chuck Grassley

Charles Ernest "Chuck" Grassley (born September 17, 1933) is the senior United States Senator from Iowa, serving since 1981. A member of Republican Party, he previously served in the served in the United States House of Representatives (1975 1981) and the Iowa state legislature (1959 1974). He was chairman of the Senate Finance Committee from January to June 2001 and from January 2003 to December 2006. He is currently the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee.


Early life, education and career

Grassley was born in New Hartford, Iowa, the son of Ruth (n e Corwin) and Louis Arthur Grassley,[1] and graduated from the town high school. At Iowa State Teachers College (now the University of Northern Iowa), he earned a B.A. in 1955 and an M.A. in 1956. He also completed some doctoral studies in political science at the University of Iowa. Also during the 1950s, Grassley farmed and worked in factories, first as a sheet metal shearer and then as an assembly line worker.

Iowa House of Representatives

Grassley represented parts of Butler County in the Iowa House of Representatives from 1959 until 1974, when he was elected to the United States House of Representatives, where he served three terms.

U.S. Senate

Committee assigments

  • Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry
    • Subcommittee on Rural Revitalization, Conservation, Forestry and Credit
    • Subcommittee on Energy, Science and Technology
    • Subcommittee on Production, Income Protection and Price Support
  • Committee on Finance
    • Subcommittee on Health Care
    • Subcommittee on Energy, Natural Resources, and Infrastructure
    • Subcommittee on International Trade, Customs, and Global Competitiveness
  • Committee on the Judiciary (Ranking Minority Member)
    • As Ranking Minority Member of the full committee, Sen. Grassley may serve as an ex officio member of all subcommittees of which he is not already a voting member.
  • Committee on the Budget
  • Caucus on International Narcotics Control (Co-Chairman)
  • Joint Committee on Taxation

E. Clay Shaw]] (R-FL) (left to right) address the media after a meeting at the White House with President Bill Clinton. As a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee Grassley has spearheaded many probes into the misuse and accountability of federal money. On June 28, 2006, Grassley proposed a so-called Pimp Tax[2][3] intended to curb sex trafficking and sex slavery in the United States by means of strict enforcement of tax laws, for example by requiring a W-2 form be filed for each prostitute managed by a pimp or other employer.

The slang term Pimp Tax was parodied on an episode of the Daily Show on American cable television. On an episode aired August 14, Dan Bakkedahl interviewed Republican Congressperson Jack Kingston of Georgia and Arch Bishop Don Magic Juan on the subject. [4]

In July 2007, a Grassley-commissioned report was released claiming that more than US$1 billion in farm subsidies were sent to deceased individuals. Grassley said: "It's unconscionable that the Department of Agriculture would think that a dead person was actively engaged in the business of farming."[5]

Since 1976, Grassley has repeatedly introduced measures that increase the level of double taxation on American citizens living abroad, including retroactive tax hikes. Grassley was eventually able to attach an amendment to a piece of legislation that went into effect in 2006, which increased taxes on Americans abroad by targeting housing and living incentives paid by foreign employers and held them accountable for federal taxes, even though they did not currently reside in the United States. Critics of the amendment felt that the move hurt Americans competing for jobs abroad by putting an unnecessary tax burden on foreign employers. Others felt that the move was only to offset the revenue deficit caused by domestic tax cuts of the Bush Administration.[6][7][8]

In March 2009, amid the scandal involving various AIG executives receiving large salary bonuses from the taxpayer-funded bailout of the corporate giant, Grassley sparked controversy by suggesting that those AIG employees receiving large bonuses should follow the so-called 'Japanese example', resign immediately or commit suicide. After much criticism he has not backed off of those comments, dismissing them as rhetoric.[9][10][11]

At an August 12, 2009, meeting in Iowa, Senator Grassley supported the claims by health care reform opponents that end-of-life counseling provisions in the House health care bill, , amounted to government sponsored euthanasia. In response to an audience question about the provision, Grassley said people were right to fear that the government would "pull the plug on grandma."[12][13][14][15] Grassley had previously supported covering end-of-life counseling, having voted for the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003, which stated: "The covered services are: evaluating the beneficiary's need for pain and symptom management, including the individual's need for hospice care; counseling the beneficiary with respect to end-of-life issues and care options, and advising the beneficiary regarding advanced care planning."

Political positions

In 2005, Charles Grassley received a 7 percent rating on the Republicans for Environmental Protection's (REP) environmental scorecard. He voted in a manner inconsistent with what the REP considers pro-environment on 14 of 15 issues considered environmentally critical by the REP. He voted with REP on an amendment to the Energy Policy Act of 2005 proposed by Senator Jeff Bingaman to require at least 10% of electricity sold by utilities to originate from renewable resources. Issues in which Senator Grassley voted anti-environment are all other amendments to the Energy Policy Act proposed in 2005, the issue of authorizing drilling in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge, and fuel economy standards for vehicles. In 2006, Grassley received a 0 percent rating from the REP[16] and a 14 percent rating from the LCV.[17] According to these organizations, he voted pro-environment on the issue of energy and weatherization assistance, and voted anti-environment on drilling, environmental funding, peer review, renewable resources, and the Gulf of Mexico Security Act of 2006.

In 2009, Senator Grassley received a 10 percent rating on the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) scorecard for his pro-environment votes on the issues of renewable energy and farm conservation programs.[17] These pro-environment votes, however, were balanced by his anti-environment votes on the energy conference report, global warming, natural gas facilities, undermining fuel economy, increasing fuel economy, and various other issues.

Grassley has been described in newswires as a "bulldog supporter" of biofuels such as ethanol.[18] Grassley has opposed conservative Senators like Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Jim DeMint (R-SC) for wanting to bring an end to ethanol subsidies.[19]

According to the Disabled American Veterans, Senator Grassley has the third-worst voting record in the entire US Congress (both House and Senate combined) on veterans issues, earning a 40 rating.[20] However, Senator Grassley was given the right-leaning American Legion's distinguished public service award for his support of a "strong national defense, service members, veterans and the American flag", primarily due to his support for a flag protection amendment.[21]

In May 2009, Grassley cosponsored a resolution to amend the US Constitution to prohibit flag-burning, stating the flag is "... the symbol our men and women in uniform have fought for over 200 years."[22]

Grassley was among 20 co-sponsors of a 1993 Senate bill that would have mandated health insurance for Americans. In 2009 and 2010, however, when President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party proposed a health reform bill featuring mandated health insurance, Grassley vocally opposed the health insurance mandate, saying that it was a deal breaker.[23][24]

Grassley voted in favor of end-of-life counseling as part of the 2003 Medicare prescription drug bill. Six years later, in 2009 and 2010, he changed positions and began referring to end-of-life-counseling as death panels, and strongly opposed the Democratic proposals for health care reform in the United States that would include this counseling. In 2009, he told an Iowa town hall meeting, In the House bill, there is counseling for end of life. You have every right to fear. You shouldn t have counseling at the end of life [25][26]

Senator Grassley has a 100 percent rating from the National Right to Life Committee,[27] 84 percent rating from the American Conservative Union,[28] and 100 percent rating from Eagle Forum.[29] Family Research Council,[30] an organization labeled as a "Hate Group"[31] by the civil rights organization Southern Poverty Law Center, gave Grassley a 100 percent rating. Grassley scored a 20 percent rating from the Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights organization for the 110th Congress.[32]

Grassley has campaigned to increase protection and provide support for "Whistleblowers". He has supported a number of FBI whistle blowers, including Coleen Rowley, Michael German, and Jane Turner. Grassley received a lifetime achievement award on May 17, 2007 from the National Whistleblower Center. A September 2009 poll shows Grassley with a popularity rating in Iowa of 50% approving of his job, and 40% disapproving.[33]


Religious organizations

On November 5, 2007, Grassley announced an investigation into the tax-exempt status of six ministries under the leadership of Benny Hinn, Paula White, Eddie L. Long, Joyce Meyer, Creflo Dollar, and Kenneth Copeland by the United States Senate Committee on Finance.[34] In letters to each ministry, Grassley asked for the ministries to divulge specific financial information to the committee to determine whether or not funds collected by each organization were inappropriately utilized by ministry heads.[35] By the December 6, 2007 deadline, only three of the ministries had shown compliance with the Finance Committee's request. On March 11, 2008, Grassley and Finance Chairman Max Baucus sent follow-up letters to Kenneth Copeland, Creflo Dollar and Eddie Long, explaining that the Senate reserved the right to investigate the finances of their organizations under federal tax laws.[36]

Responses from these Ministers included Constitutional arguments about Congressional power to oversee such matters. They claim that only the IRS has the authority to request such information, and should the IRS request it or pursue an investigation, the ministries involved would gladly comply.

Medical research

Grassley also began an investigation about unreported payments to physicians by pharmaceutical companies. The New York Times reported that Dr. Joseph Biederman of Harvard University had failed to report over a million dollars of income that he had received from pharmaceutical companies.[37] Weeks later, Business Week reported that Grassley alleged that Alan Schatzberg, chair of psychiatry at Stanford University, had underreported his investments in Corcept Therapeutics, a company he founded.[38] Dr. Schatzberg had reported only $100,000 investments in Corcept, but Grassley stated that his investments actually totalled over $6 million. Dr. Schaztberg later stepped down from his grant which is funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).[39] Similarly, Dr. Charles Nemeroff resigned as chair of the psychiatry department at Emory University after failing to report a third of the $2.8 million in consulting fees he received from GlaxoSmithKline. At the time he received these fees, Dr. Nemeroff had been principal investigator of a $3.9 million NIH grant evaluating five medications for depression manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline.[40]

Political campaigns

Grassley was elected to his Senate seat in 1980, defeating the Democratic incumbent, John Culver. He was reelected in 1986, 1992, 1998, 2004, and 2010.


Grassley was being challenged by Democrat Roxanne Conlin, a former U.S. Attorney, and Libertarian John Heiderscheit, an attorney.

During the Democratic primary campaign, Bob Krause, a former state legislator, Army veteran and transportation official, said that Grassley's more than half-century in public office is too long. "As a good farmer, Sen. Grassley must recognize that 51 years, or 58 years at the end of his term, is a long time to go without rotating crops," Krause told about 50 supporters in Des Moines.[41] Krause cited Grassley's support in 1999 for legislation that allowed banks and insurance companies to begin offering other investment products. "Please remember that Farmer Grassley was one that opened the barn door and let the cow out at AIG," Krause said.[41]

Grassley was unopposed in the Republican primary, although some conservatives said he has drifted "too far to the left".[42] Among those is conservative activist Bill Salier, who said "Grassley was the dominant force and had an enormous amount of loyalty. That has so eroded out from underneath him" during an interview on WHO-AM radio.[43]

He won with 64.5% of the vote, Roxanne Conlin getting 33.2% of the vote.


According to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, the industries that have been the largest contributors to Grassley during his political career are health professionals ($1 million in contributions), insurance industry ($997,674), lawyers/law firms ($625,543) and pharmaceuticals/health products ($538,680). His largest corporate donors have been Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance, Amgen biotech company and Wells Fargo bank.[44]

Electoral history

United States Senate election in Iowa, 2010

Chuck Grassley (R) (inc.) 63.4%
Roxanne Conlin (D) 32.8%
John Heiderscheit (Lib.) 2.2%

United States Senate election in Iowa, 2004

Chuck Grassley (R) (inc.) 70.1%
Arthur Small (D) 27.9%
Christy Welty (Lib.) 1%
Daryl Northrop (Green) 0.8%
Edwin Fruit (Socialist Workers) 0.1%

United States Senate election in Iowa, 1998

Chuck Grassley (R) (inc.) 68.4%
David Osterberg (D) 30.5%
Susan Marcus (Natural Law) 0.8%
Margaret Trowe (Socialist Workers) 0.3%

United States Senate election in Iowa, 1992

Chuck Grassley (R) (inc.) 69.6%
Jean Lloyd-Jones (D) 27.2%
Stuart Zimmerman (Natural Law) 1.3%
Sue Atkinson (I) 0.5%
Mel Boring (I) 0.4%
Rosanne Freeburg (I) 0.4%
Carl Eric Olsen (Grassroots) 0.3%
Richard O'Dell Hughes (I) 0.2%
Cleve Andrew Pulley (Socialist Workers) 0.1%

United States Senate election in Iowa, 1986

Chuck Grassley (R) (inc.) 66%
John P. Roehrick (D) 34%

United States Senate election in Iowa, 1980

Chuck Grassley (R) 53.5%
John Culver (D) (inc.) 45.5%

1978 Iowa 3rd District United States Congressional Election

Chuck Grassley (R) (inc.) 74.8%
John Knudson (D) 25.2%

1976 Iowa 3rd District United States Congressional Election

Chuck Grassley (R) (inc.) 56%
Stephen Rapp 44%

1974 Iowa 3rd District United States Congressional Election

Chuck Grassley (R) 50.8%
Stephen Rapp (D) 49.2%

Personal life

Grassley married Barbara Ann Speicher in September 1954; the couple have five children: Lee, Wendy, Robin, Michele, and Jay. Grassley is a member of The Family, the Christian political organization that organizes the National Prayer Breakfast.[45]


In 2009, Grassley received the "Health Policy Hero" award from the National Research Center for Women & Families[46] for his 2004 oversight of legislative reforms and accountability of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).[47] Grassley was also named the hardest working member of Congress by The Hill newspaper in June 2010, tied with Max Baucus.[48]


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