Sen. Grassley’s traveling office arrives in Spencer
State Rep. Jacob Bossman, R-Sioux City, who is also a regional director for Sen. Chuck Grassley, helmed Grassley’s traveling office in Spencer on Wednesday morning. Although the office only had one visitor, Spencer Public Works Director Mark White, after the two spoke about how recent record-breaking flooding, conversation moved to agriculture, as White is also a farmer.
“I’d say in our area the farmers are concerned about the soybean situation and the renewable fuel standards,” White said. “Then in the middle of that, we have an area of not very good crops due to weather conditions. So that’s adding to some anxiety, I think for some of the producers.”
White shared praise for the senator “inquiring about the renewable fuel standards.”
“I know there were some preliminary talks of being more on the offense,” Bossman said. “Because for the last year, the renewable fuels industry has been very much on the defense. Pruitt, and everybody else doing things and they had to react to it. I think (Grassley’s) view all along with that was this was the law and you need them to uphold the law. ... I think that they’re optimistic the new EPA Secretary (Andrew) Wheeler will restore it to those levels, ... but I think you are going to have some discussions of offensively, how you start moving that forward?”
Bossman said many of the phone calls Grassley’s office has recently received surrounded immigration, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and President Donald Trump’s recent Helsinki summit.
“Most of what we had been getting the day before yesterday was setting up the Supreme Court nomination,” Bossman said. “It was less calls and less contact than we expected. The people that did call in were very opinionated, fierce and angry. ... I think it’s people who are upset with Republicans, upset with Trump and this is one more thing that set them off.
He continued, “In just the last couple days we’ve been getting much more calls about President Trump’s visit to Helsinki with Putin. I would say those number of calls spilled over more into the general public.”
Grassley issued an official news release regarding the summit on July 16, stating “The indictment from the Special Counsel’s office includes allegations that Russian military officials were involved in an attempt to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election through cybersecurity hacking. ... These are serious charges that strike at the core of our democracy, and the individuals who were indicted need to face the allegations being levied against them. President Trump missed an opportunity to publicly press President Putin on whether he would agree to extradite the defendants to the United States to answer the allegations in court. It should always be the goal of U.S. presidents to improve relations with other countries, especially ones as large and strategically important as Russia. It’s also important for our leaders to be clear-eyed in their approach. Vladimir Putin isn’t a friend to the United States, to the Western world or our values.”
The regional director said in addition to keeping up to date with what is important to northwest Iowans, Grassley has been busy working to resolve the backlog of federal judge appointments.
“Senator Grassley more so than most understands the responsibility of the minority and the powers and privileges that they have and respecting that,” Bossman said. “For a lot of these ... court nominations they’ll drag it out to the full extent if they can, and then when it gets to the end they vote for it unanimously. So his view is, (if there is) one thing you have a problem with, let’s go through this process. If this guy is going to be confirmed unanimously, why can’t we just do it from the beginning? ... I think that was part of why they canceled the August recess. Because of these delays getting backlogged to confirm these judges, and then the Supreme Court nomination just added to that.”
Bossman said another issue passionate to the senator is criminal justice reform, specifically in regards to mandatory sentencing.
“It’s something he’s been working on for a couple years,” Bossman said. “He said it really stood out to him because he said he has the most liberal member of his committee and most conservative member ... both approached him about doing something about this. ... I think their request was ‘Let’s just take mandatory minimums and slash them by 40 percent.’ His thought was ‘No, if we’re going to do this, we’re going to look at each one and figure out what makes sense. If we have a mandatory minimum of 12 years and it’s outrageous, what should it be?’ I think his view is minimums should be that. It’s the point where if you go below it, it doesn’t make sense.
He continued, “They went through each one by one. Then there was a few areas — terrorism and human trafficking — that they didn’t have mandatory minimums for, they created those for. It’s something he’s put a lot of time into, feels passionate about, and thus far hasn’t moved. I believe (U.S. Senate Majority Leader) Mitch McConnell is opposed to it, (U.S. Attorney General) Jeff Sessions is opposed to it, but I think it has strong bipartisan support and something that whenever he gets a chance he gets to bring it up. It’s gotten some momentum recently because Kim Kardashian visited the White House and she’s been a proponent of it. ... I think Senator Grassley is optimistic that something will happen at some point.”