Grassley casts 10,000th vote in U.S. Senate

Chuck Grassley, a Republican from Iowa, has sort of become the Cal Ripken of the U.S. Senate. Grassley (R-IA) today cast the 10,000th vote of his senate career and there was apparently a celebration on the senate floor.  (Just more "Disneyland on the Potomac" stuff?) It must be a senate tradition, because senators had a little fun when Joe Biden cast his 10,000th vote in 1999.  Iowa's other U.S. Senator, Tom Harkin, a Democrat, was in on today's fun.  Read his remarks below as well as Grassley's.


WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) delivered a speech on the Senate floor today as Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) cast his 10,000th vote.  Following is the text of his remarks, as prepared for delivery.

“Mr. President, I join with the entire Senate family in congratulating my good friend, the distinguished senior Senator from Iowa, on casting his 10,000th vote here in the Senate.  This is a remarkable milestone.  But even more remarkable is the fact that Senator Grassley has cast nearly 6,000 consecutive votes without missing a single one.  The last time he missed a vote was in 1993, when he was obliged to be in Iowa during the catastrophic flooding of that year.

“It has been nearly 16 years since Senator Grassley missed a vote.  I note that Cal Ripken, the former Baltimore Oriole, is known as the “iron man” for going 16 consecutive years without missing a game.  So I guess Senator Grassley has also earned the title “iron man.” 

“But, Mr. President, the measure of a Senator is not how many votes he or she casts, but what he or she accomplishes off the floor.  And that is where Senator Grassley has truly distinguished himself in this body over the last 28 years. 

“For instance, I dare say that no Senator is more dedicated to providing rigorous, relentless oversight of Executive Branch agencies – whether during Republican administrations or Democratic administrations. 
Count me as one who believes the Executive Branch has arrogated to itself far too much power vis-à-vis the Legislative Branch – power that they flaunt.  So I believe that Senator Grassley’s dedication to the oversight function has been truly exemplary – a model that every Senator should strive to emulate.

“Mr. President, Chuck Grassley and I have served together in Congress since we were both first elected to the U.S. House in 1974.  We took the oath of office on the same day in January 1975.  He moved on to the Senate in 1981, and I followed in 1985.

“We belong to different parties, but I like to think we share a down-to-earth, common-sense Iowa way of looking at the world.  I value his friendship and counsel, and have the highest respect for his work here in the Senate. 

“So, again, I join with my colleagues in congratulating the Senator on this remarkable milestone.”

Grassley casts 10,000 Senate votes
Working for Iowa puts Grassley on list with 28 other U.S. senators in history

            WASHINGTON – Senator Chuck Grassley today cast his 10,000 Senate vote, a milestone that’s been reached by only 28 other senators, including nine serving today.

Since 1789, there have been 1,910 members of the U.S. Senate.  During the last 20 years, the Senate has held an average of 336 votes each year.

            Grassley holds the record for the longest streak of successive votes among current senators, having cast 5,473 consecutive votes.  Grassley last missed a vote in July 1993, when he accompanied President Bill Clinton to Iowa to inspect flood damage.

            Of today’s occasion, Grassley said, “It’s not the numbers themselves that matter so much, but people are cynical about government and wonder if you’re really on the job.  When the Senate’s in session, I’m in Washington voting, and when the Senate is out of session, I’m in Iowa’s 99 counties holding meetings with constituents.  It’s a way to quantify my respect for the public trust I hold in representing Iowans and to do the job I’m elected to do.”  Grassley’s 10,000th vote was on a Johanns amendment to the budget resolution for fiscal year 2010.

            Grassley was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1980, and he has held at least one official meeting in every one of Iowa’s 99 counties every year since then.  He says the process of representative government is a two-way street.  “I have a responsibility to go to Iowans to ask for their views and answer their questions, and they have a responsibility to let me know what they think.  I want to foster that process, and going to every county every year is a way to do so.”  Grassley also has made constituent service a priority and provides casework and other assistance at six offices across Iowa.

            In the Senate, Grassley is the Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Finance, which is responsible for legislation dealing with tax, international trade, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and social services.  He’s also a senior member of the Judiciary and Budget committees and a member of the Agriculture Committee.  He co-chairs the Caucus on International Narcotics Control and is a member of the Joint Committee on Taxation.

This year, Grassley is working on comprehensive bipartisan health care reform legislation; to end agreements between brand-name and generic drug manufacturers that deny consumers access to lower-priced medicines; for approval of international trade agreements that create new markets for U.S. exports; and to strengthen family farms with common-sense EPA regulations and by breaking down barriers to competition in an agricultural marketplace that has become unfairly concentrated.  Grassley also is conducting extensive oversight of the government’s effort to rescue the financial system.  He is holding the new administration accountable for making government more transparent, as promised, and seeking to update whistleblower protections.  Grassley is working to disclose financial ties between the pharmaceutical industry and physicians, and he’s investigating drug-safety issues.

            Grassley’s legislative record as a senator includes a 2008 reform to make it easier for foster kids to be adopted; a 2008 tax law to get the same help to Iowa flood and tornado victims that was made available to Hurricane Katrina victims; changes to the 2008 farm program to tighten income-eligibility limits and strengthen competition in the livestock industry; a 2006 law to safeguard worker pensions with post-Enron reforms; enactment in 2006 of a Grassley-Kennedy bill to give parents of kids with disabilities access to the Medicaid program so parents can keep their jobs; dramatic expansion in 2005 of the wind energy production tax credit Grassley first authored in 1992, expansion of incentives for biodiesel, biomass, ethanol and solar energy, creation of bonds to help rural coops generate renewable electricity, and new incentives for energy conservation in homes and cars; a 2004 law that reformed international and corporate tax laws to make America more competitive and shut down tax shelters and havens to improve tax fairness; the 2003 Medicare overhaul that created the Medicare prescription drug benefit; the biggest in a generation 2001 tax cut that lowered marginal rates, created the first-ever 10-percent bracket for low-income taxpayers, made tax-free savings plans for college a permanent part of the tax code, created the tax deduction for tuition, and secured the tax deductibility of student loans; the 1995 law that applied federal labor and civil rights laws for Congress for the first time ever; the 1989 Whistleblower Protection Act; and the 1986 amendments to the federal False Claims Act, which empowered whistleblowers and have recovered more than $21 billion for the U.S. Treasury that otherwise would be lost to fraud.

            Grassley conducts active congressional oversight of the executive branch of government.  His efforts have been recognized by whistleblower advocacy groups and journalist organizations for protecting press freedom and the First Amendment.

Grassley is the 11th most senior member of the U.S. Senate and the fourth most senior Republican senator.

Other senators currently serving who have cast more than 10,000 votes are Senators Max Baucus of Montana, Robert Byrd of West Virginia, Thad Cochran of Mississippi, Orrin Hatch of Utah, Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Carl Levin of Michigan, and Richard Lugar of Indiana.

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.