Senator Grassley discusses variety of matters during Allamakee County visit

Senator Grassley visits Waukon as part of annual tour ... U.S. Senator Charles Grassley spoke to a crowd of more than 80 individuals at Robey Memorial Library in Waukon during a Monday, April 11 visit to Allamakee County as part of his 42nd annual 99-county tour. Grassley heard comments from those in attendance and addressed some discussion points regarding such matters as Social Security and the program’s solvency, insulin and prescription drug costs, parental rights in education, filibuster rule changes, and the Affordable Care Act, among other points of interest. Photo by Julie Berg-Raymond.

by Julie Berg-Raymond

U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley spoke to about 80 people Monday, April 11 at Robey Memorial Library in Waukon, as part of his 42nd annual “99-County Tour.” Grassley, 88, is in his seventh senate term, having first been elected in 1980.

Monday afternoon, Grassley addressed topics ranging from infrastructure (“Iowa’s bridges are the worst in the 50 states in the nation,” he noted) to Social Security and the cost of insulin.

“There are still two and a half trillion dollars in the Social Security trust fund that will keep your check at 100 percent until about 2034,” Grassley said, in response to a question about the program’s long-term viability. “When this is gone, your check will be around 77 percent.” Addressing “looming deficits,” he said, “will take bipartisan leadership. I won’t be in Congress in 2034,” he noted, drawing laughter from attendees; “but it will have to be bi-partisan.”

One man told Grassley that, after working all his life - “I never asked for anything from anyone,” he said - noting that he got sick and was hospitalized, at one point for 13 weeks. “Twice I was told I might not be coming out,” he added. “But I came out.” In the meantime, he noted, his wife had taken a second part-time job to help pay their bills. He applied for Social Security disability; but he was told that, “combined, we made too much money to get Social Security disability.”

An aide to Senator Grassley walked over to the man with a business card and told him to call the senator’s office at his first opportunity. “It will just require a signature from you,” Grassley told him - “because I can’t look at your records without (a signature).”

Asked about his commitment to lowering the cost of insulin and other prescription drugs, Grassley said, “Last year Democrats had a prescription bill as part of their ‘Build Back Better’ plan; now that ‘Build Back Better’ didn’t go, I hope they’ll look at my bill.”

Grassley had earlier addressed that bill - the bi-partisan Wyden-Grassley Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act (PDPRA) - at a Senate Finance Committee hearing March 16, 2022, noting: “It caps out-of-pocket expenses at $3,100, eliminates the donut hole, caps rising drug prices in Medicare at the inflation price index - ending uncapped taxpayer-funded subsidies to Big Pharma,” Grassley noted in his prepared remarks before the committee. “It brings more sunshine, accountability, and saves $72 billion for seniors and $95 billion for taxpayers… If we want to reduce drug prices, then we need to do it now.”

One woman spoke about the question of parental rights when it comes to the education of their children and expressed displeasure with the idea that “the FBI is attending school board meetings” in places across the country and, in so doing, infringing upon parents’ rights.

The attendee refused to answer a reporter’s follow-up questions; but she seemed to be referring to a memorandum United States Attorney General Merrick Garland issued last October that, according to U.S. News and World Report, “tasked the FBI and U.S. attorneys’ offices to meet in the next 30 days with federal, state and local law enforcement leaders to outline strategies for addressing a spike in harassment, intimidation and threats of violence against school board members across the country.” (“Garland Defends Decision to Mobilize FBI Against Threats to School Board Members,” by Lauren Camera, October 21, 2021,

Grassley spoke briefly about this issue during an interview after Monday’s town hall meeting. “We know that the National School Board Association went to the FBI,” Grassley said. “Parents are trying to express their right to say what is right or wrong about the education of their kids. You’ve got people saying, ‘parents should stay out of education - we should just trust teachers.’”

“And you do not agree, is that correct?” the reporter asked. “No,” Grassley replied. “And you shouldn’t, either.”

One citizen’s question regarding changing the rules of filibuster drew vocal disagreement from many attendees - and a brief lesson in the political process, from Grassley.

“The Senate was meant to slow down legislation,” Grassley said. “It’s the only place in our political system where minority views get to be considered.” (In a Q&A series installment on his website, Grassley notes, “The Senate was designed to be the cooling saucer to the House’s hot tea. The principle of extended debate in the Senate frustrates hot-headed partisans on both sides, while forcing bipartisan compromise.”

A woman who asked Grassley whether he would vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act noted, “You voted 12 times to repeal it; will you do it again?”

“That was before 2016,” Grassley replied. “We’re not going to repeal the Affordable Care Act.”