Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa)

 

Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa)

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Grassley Urges More Information Sharing Between Health, Intelligence Agencies

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is urging the leader of the U.S. intelligence community to further incorporate and provide intelligence access to the Department of Health and Human Services Office of National Security (ONS) to strengthen the governmental response to the COVID-19 public health crisis and future health concerns.

 “The COVID-19 pandemic exemplifies the need to have a robust intelligence apparatus that must include HHS, and specifically ONS, as a full partner in the fight and that partnership must extend beyond the current pandemic. The cooperation that you facilitate today between federal health agencies and the Intelligence Community will strengthen ties between them for decades to come and the American people will be better served by the increased communication,” Grassley wrote.

 In a letter sent today to Acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell, Grassley praises the recent pandemic-related information access granted to ONS but continues his push for full, complete and consistent ONS access to all intelligence community information as well as continued incorporation into missions related to the full scope of public health concerns—not just COVID-19.

 Last week, Grassley called for greater information sharing between U.S. federal health and intelligence agencies in a speech on the Senate floor. He specifically counseled against the over-classification of information so that federal health officials charged with combatting the coronavirus pandemic can access relevant information. Following a classified briefing in February on the coronavirus, Grassley highlighted the hard work done by the intelligence community but raised concerns about that work going to waste if federal health officials could not access the full range of information they need to do their jobs. The senator also raised this issue at a recent Finance Committee hearing with HHS Secretary Alex Azar.

 Full text of Grassley’s letter to Grenell follows or can be found HERE

March 24, 2020

 

VIA ELECTRONIC TRANSMISSION

Ambassador Richard Grenell

Acting Director

Office of the Director of National Intelligence

 

Dear Ambassador Grenell:

 I want to thank you for your service to the Intelligence Community during these challenging times. Our country faces an extraordinary threat from COVID-19 and the administration’s all-hands-on-deck public and private sector approach is the exact response that is necessary to defeat the virus and keep the public safe.

 During the course of my oversight of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), I have engaged extensively with its Office of National Security (ONS) which protects HHS from numerous threats. For example, ONS provides oversight, policy direction and performance valuations in intelligence, counterintelligence, insider threats, cyber threat intelligence, information security and homeland security. Moreover, ONS functions as the Federal Intelligence Coordination Office for HHS and works to ensure personnel security and the safeguarding of classified information. In addition, the ONS Division of Operations works to identify and combat insider threats and foreign intelligence and economic espionage against HHS assets. Accordingly, ONS is tasked with countering national security threats and has an important role to play in the COVID-19 pandemic.

 Most recently, I have publicly stated that federal health agencies must have access to all Intelligence Community information that could help combat the COVID-19 pandemic. I’ve noted that to help with that access, the Intelligence Community must guard against classifying information in such a way that ONS, for example, is unable to access relevant information. I have also noted my concern that ONS was not adequately incorporated into the Intelligence Community’s response to the pandemic; however, I have recently been made aware that this issue has been rightfully resolved.

 The healthcare landscape has evolved considerably in the past several decades. Threats to healthcare now include cyber, intelligence, and counterintelligence threats. That is why ONS is a critical part of HHS’s mission. The COVID-19 pandemic exemplifies the need to have a robust intelligence apparatus that must include HHS, and specifically ONS, as a full partner in the fight and that partnership must extend beyond the current pandemic. The cooperation that you facilitate today between federal health agencies and the Intelligence Community will strengthen ties between them for decades to come and the American people will be better served by the increased communication.

 Accordingly, I request that you immediately use your authorities to ensure that ONS is given full, complete, and consistent access to all Intelligence Community information and continues to be fully incorporated into missions involving threats to the nation’s healthcare, not just COVID-19. No later than March 31, 2020, please provide me an update on the steps you have taken to resolve these issues. Should you have questions, please contact Joshua Flynn-Brown of my Committee staff at 202-224-4515.

Thursday, March 17, 2020

Grassley op-ed: Lessons are unfolding from the coronavirus pandemic, a test of our civic duty
This week, I scheduled a dozen county meetings in keeping with my annual tour across the state to keep in touch with Iowans. Like many events, my meetings are postponed. The coronavirus outbreak is disrupting society and everyday life.
From canceled sporting events to school closings, travel restrictions and nixed St. Patrick’s Day parades, Iowans are coping with a new normal to mitigate the transmission of the novel coronavirus. Although it seems inconceivable a virus would shutter Disneyland, March Madness, the Iowa Legislature and even houses of worship, closures will save lives.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, four pandemics in the previous century emerged from novel influenza viruses, including the 1918 outbreak that killed 675,000 Americans. For most people, the CDC says this highly contagious coronavirus will cause mild symptoms. However, the risk from serious complications from the disease COVID-19 poses life-threatening harm for the elderly and those with underlying health conditions.
As the number of confirmed cases and mortality rates swell across the country, a coordinated response is mission-critical. Over the weekend, Gov. Kim Reynolds confirmed Iowans have contracted the disease from community transmission. This delivers a reality check to our state. There’s clear and present urgency behind the effort to slow its transmission.
That’s why I’ve encouraged people to heed guidance from our public health professionals. Listen to the experts in epidemiology and infectious diseases when they say to regularly wash hands for at least 20 seconds, avoid touching the face and shaking hands, disinfect surfaces and practice social distancing. Lessons from the 1918 pandemic teach us that control efforts are essential for saving lives when no pharmaceutical treatment is yet available. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and its phalanx of federal agencies, from the CDC to the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration have all hands on deck to respond to this 21st-century public health crisis. Every American must get on board.
Congress passed an initial emergency $8.3 billion response package to purchase medical supplies and equipment, accelerate the development of therapeutics and vaccines, and send federal aid to state and local health agencies. President Trump on Friday declared a national emergency, freeing up to $50 billion and cutting red tape to give hospitals flexibility to serve patients.
This week, Congress is poised to deliver a second package to alleviate hardship on American families who miss work and wages stemming from the public health crisis. Specifically, the bipartisan bill would provide free testing for the virus, increase food assistance, extend unemployment insurance and ensure employees have access to employer-paid sick and family leave by providing small- and medium-sized businesses a payroll tax credit to fully cover these costs.
As the United States works to protect the public health, the pandemic is infecting the economy, particularly the travel, hospitality, and entertainment sectors. As chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, I’m developing additional fiscal measures for consideration to help inoculate small businesses and their workers from the fallout and address volatility in the stock markets amid shocks to global supply chains, effects on businesses of social distancing, and lowered consumer demand. As always, I’m keeping watch over federal agencies and their efforts to mitigate risk for nursing home residents, veterans, and inmates.
Don’t forget, the 2020 Census is underway. The federal government’s response to the coronavirus includes billions of dollars in federal aid that will be distributed based on census data. Census forms will be mailed to every household by March 20. For the first time, Americans may choose to complete the survey online, by phone or mail. The decennial headcount provides vital data for federal spending formulas that Iowa communities count on to pay for public services and public works, such as highways and hospitals, food stamps, Head Start, Medicaid and more.
Lessons from the 2020 pandemic underscore my work at the policymaking tables on behalf of Iowans, including:
  • Broadband infrastructure is more important than ever. From telemedicine to telecommuting and online school instruction, rural America can’t be left behind. I applaud the Federal Communications Commission and the private sector who are working together to ensure Americans don’t lose access to their internet service during the pandemic. In August, I participated in an event hosted by the Bipartisan Policy Center and UnityPoint in Des Moines about barriers to health care in our rural communities. Many Iowans travel long distances to reach a hospital or health clinic. Shortages of physicians and specialists in our rural communities further underscore the accessibility gap. Expanding telehealth services would help bridge the divide, improving patient outcomes and saving money. The emergency spending package Congress approved earlier this month paves the way for telehealth services to better serve patients and prevent exposing others to the virus.
  • The coronavirus pandemic brings even more urgency to my bipartisan Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act I’ve co-authored with Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon. When lifesaving vaccines and pharmaceutical treatments are prescribed to patients, they need to be affordable to be effective. Our bill caps out-of-pocket costs for senior citizens. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office updated its analysis and reported the bill would save taxpayers $95 billion, reduce out-of-pocket spending by $72 billion and reduce premiums by $1 billion.
As we navigate these uncertain times, embrace the pioneer spirit. Be governed by grit, sacrifice, and fortitude to thrive and protect hearth and home. Iowans are of sturdy stock, civic-minded and good neighbors.
Nearly a century ago, in an address to the 42nd General Assembly, the son of a pioneer family who had served in the Statehouse and represented Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District shared a bit of wisdom that rings true today as Iowans are called to act in solidarity for the public good. The farm boy from Bremer County, Burton E. Sweet, praised the “great inheritance” transmitted from our predecessors who embraced a governing philosophy “for the benefit of one is the benefit of all, and the neglect of one is the neglect of all.”
The closures and cancelations may seem extreme or excessive to many Iowans. Consider this a test of social responsibility and civic duty. Let’s pass with flying colors, especially for the sake of loved ones, neighbors and co-workers who are at greater risk of serious complications and for those on the front lines who deliver life-saving health care. Although this pandemic may worsen before times get better, I have every confidence America’s best days are yet to come.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Prepared Floor Remarks by U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa

On His Office’s Accessibility to Iowans

This is my 40th year holding a Q&A in each of Iowa’s 99 counties. My regional staff is also committed to holding meetings across Iowa.

My Iowa staff serve as my eyes and ears when I’m working in Washington, D.C. 

That’s why they host mobile office hours in every county and attended roughly 1,400 meetings across the state last year.

My regional directors’ tour hospitals, businesses and child care centers. 

They meet with disaster victims, government officials and senior citizens. They attend ribbon cuttings, community forums and legislative discussions. 

Serving Iowans is my top priority. I encourage Iowans to contact any of my six offices across the state if I can be of assistance on a federal matter.

Regional Offices

Cedar Rapids

111 7th Avenue SE, Box 13
Suite 6800
Cedar Rapids, IA 52401
(319) 363-6832
Fax: (319) 363-7179

Council Bluffs

307 Federal Building
8 South 6th Street
Council Bluffs, IA 51501
(712) 322-7103
Fax: (712) 322-7196

Davenport

201 West 2nd Street
Suite 720
Davenport, IA 52801
(563) 322-4331
Fax: (563) 322-8552

Des Moines

721 Federal Building
210 Walnut Street
Des Moines, IA 50309
(515) 288-1145
Fax: (515) 288-5097

Sioux City

120 Federal Building
320 6th Street
Sioux City, IA 51101
(712) 233-1860
Fax: (712) 233-1634

Waterloo

210 Waterloo Building
531 Commercial Street
Waterloo, IA 50701
(319) 232-6657
Fax: (319) 232-9965

Washington, D.C.

135 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
(202) 224-3744
Fax: (202) 224-6020

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Wall Street Journal: To Stay Awake in Trial’s Wee Hours, Grassley Sleeps In—Until 7:20 a.m.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, 86, is usually in bed by 8:30 or 9 p.m., so the late nights he has been keeping at the impeachment trial of President Trump haven’t been easy for him.

The Iowa Republican says his secret for staying awake has been to sleep in longer—and then take a bracing run through his northern Virginia neighborhood.

Typically Mr. Grassley rises at 4 a.m. to run. He manages 3 miles, four times per week. But on Thursday he woke at the indulgent hour of 7:20 a.m.

There are some benefits to the later wake-up time, he said. “I’m able to do it in daylight.”

A reporter asked if he ponders the trial’s evidence and arguments while he is jogging. The answer, Mr. Grassley said, is decidedly no.

“This is going to sound sentimental to you, but my period of running is not only for exercise,” he said. “It’s a time when I discuss things with God.”

LINKhttps://www.wsj.com/livecoverage/trump-impeachment-trial/card/1579811812

 

Friday, January 10, 2020

Q & A: New Year, New Tax Season – Chuck Grassley 

“Americans are ringing in the New Year with rising wages, historic low unemployment rate, robust stock markets and low inflation. Rolling back the Trump tax cuts would usher in a climate of uncertainty and dial back economic prosperity. As chairman of the tax-writing Senate Finance Committee, I’ll continue to advance efforts to make the 2017 tax reform permanent and correct technical errors in the bill so individuals, farmers, and small businesses enjoy the full benefit of the new tax law,” Senator Chuck Grassley wrote in his weekly Q&A.

Q: What’s in store for 2020?

A: Passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in 2017 delivered across-the-board tax relief and more take-home pay for American workers, helping families make ends meet and small businesses to grow and invest in their operations. For U.S. households, the overhauled federal tax code increased tax credits for families with children, expanded the standard deduction and limited the alternative minimum tax. It also restored fairness and a competitive tax regime for corporations, lowering the federal rate from 35 percent, restricting offshore tax havens and encouraging companies to bring their overseas profits back to the United States. Across the country, the Trump tax cuts expanded consumer purchasing power, helping drive the longest economic expansion in U.S. history. Americans are ringing in the New Year with rising wages, historic low unemployment rate, robust stock markets and low inflation. Rolling back the Trump tax cuts would usher in a climate of uncertainty and dial back economic prosperity. As chairman of the tax-writing Senate Finance Committee, I’ll continue to advance efforts to make the 2017 tax reform permanent and correct technical errors in the bill so individuals, farmers, and small businesses enjoy the full benefit of the new tax law. We’ll also pursue other priorities that we began last year, such as retirement and pension reform, building on the passage of the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act and helping ensure that multiemployer pension plans like Central States can provide retirement benefits over the long term.

Additionally, I’ll continue pressing forward in 2020 as a taxpayer watchdog. These efforts include my oversight work to uphold the integrity of federal tax laws and strengthen accountability at the IRS, including sharpening the effectiveness of the IRS whistleblower protection program to hold tax cheats accountable and restore even more revenue to the federal treasury. Since 2007, the IRS whistleblower program has recovered $5.7 billion. I’ve also stepped up my oversight of nonprofit hospital systems to ensure they’re fulfilling charitable care obligations as well as investigating unlawful tax avoidance schemes that cheat the taxpaying public and erode voluntary compliance.

Q: Why are syndicated conservation easements on your radar?

A: With many years of legislative and oversight experience under my belt writing federal tax policy, I work to ensure tax laws are administered as fairly and effectively as possible. As chairman of the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation, our bicameral committee considers tax expenditures and tax revenue estimates to inform lawmakers throughout the stages of writing tax policy. It’s vital for Congress to know how proposed changes would affect taxpayers, government benefits and programs. I also work to hold the federal tax-collecting agency accountable and have spearheaded laws to restore customer service at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). That’s why I’ve written several updates to my Taxpayer Bill of Rights to ensure taxpayers are treated with fairness. Our system of voluntary compliance depends on all taxpayers to fulfill their tax liability. As I often say, that means not a penny more and not a penny less. The tax gap reflects taxes that are owed compared to taxes that are paid. Last year the IRS reported a net tax gap of $381 billion, for a net compliance rate of nearly 86 percent. The IRS says the vast majority of noncompliance is attributed to underreporting income, thereby understating the amount of taxes owed. The private debt collection program that I helped create in 2004 has helped to improve IRS enforcement efforts and make the system fairer for law-abiding citizens. The IRS reports the private debt collection program collected nearly $213 million in 2019, which underscores the success of this public-private partnership. Wrongdoers who engage in illicit tax shelters create a bigger burden for law-abiding taxpayers to shoulder. It’s unfair and it’s illegal. Every year the IRS issues what it calls a “Dirty Dozen” list of tax scams and abuses. I’m actively investigating syndicated conservation easements with the committee’s top Democrat, Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon. Here’s how it works. Promoters appear to be twisting a legitimate tax tool called a conservation easement and distorting the tax benefit to game the system for profit. They appear to be selling bogus tax deductions on inflated appraisals, depriving the federal treasury of billions of dollars of revenue and besmirching the public good of charitable conservation. Conservation easements promote land conservation for public benefit by shielding land from development and preserving treasured lands for generations to come. A landowner redeems a charitable tax deduction for permanently removing the land from development. However, syndicated conservation easements appear to involve promoters overvaluing land to allow investors to scam the tax code for big-time profit. From the most recent IRS data available, approximately $20 billion in questionable tax deductions were claimed using conservation easements from 2010 to 2016. I’m investigating these transactions to find out what’s really going on in this area. When used as intended, conservation easements serve the public good by protecting natural resources and preserving cherished places for posterity. As the 2020 tax filing season gets underway, I’ll continue my legislative and oversight efforts to ensure the nation’s tax laws and federal tax-collecting agency are working effectively for Americans.

Opening day for paper and electronic tax returns is Monday, January 27, 2020. The IRS expects to process 150 million individual tax returns. Go to IRS.gov to check out available tools and information.

Charles E. Grassley, Chairman, Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Des Moines Office, 721 Federal Building, 210 Walnut Street, Des Moines, IA 50309, Phone: 515-288-1145; Fax: 515-288-5097.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Grassley Supports Resolution Praising Successful Mission to Eliminate Qasem Soleimani

 WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) joined Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and 41 Senate colleagues in supporting a resolution honoring the members of the military and intelligence community who carried out the successful mission that killed Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force (IRGC-QF) and a designated terrorist.

The resolution is modeled on a resolution unanimously supported by the U.S. Senate in 2011, after American forces killed Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden.

“The U.S. response to Iran’s increasing provocations had been too measured, to the point that we risked Iran’s leaders mistaking restraint for weakness and encouraging further escalation. I support President Trump’s action and am proud to join this resolution honoring our men and women in uniform who led this successful mission,” Grassley said.

Charles E. Grassley, Chairman, Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Des Moines Office, 721 Federal Building, 210 Walnut Street, Des Moines, IA 50309, Phone: 515-288-1145; Fax: 515-288-5097.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Senator Chuck Grassley released statement regarding House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Articles of Impeachment

Senator Chuck Grassley, Senate president pro tempore and Senate Finance Committee Chairman, today released the following statement regarding House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi announcing that she will soon transmit articles of impeachment to the United States Senate.

“Speaker Pelosi threw the United States Congress into unnecessary chaos with this pointless delay. From the beginning, it’s been unclear what the goal of this hurry-up-and-wait tactic was or what the country stood to gain. We now know the answer was nothing. We’ve had three needless weeks of uncertainty and confusion, causing even more division.

“After House Democrats delayed passing the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement for nearly a year, the speaker’s indecision on impeachment will now keep the trade deal from being ratified for even longer. Farmers, ranchers, manufacturers and all American workers will pay the price.

“Regardless, I will take my role as a juror seriously and review the evidence presented by both sides before making any determination.”

 

Charles E. Grassley, Chairman, Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Des Moines Office, 721 Federal Building, 210 Walnut Street, Des Moines, IA 50309, Phone: 515-288-1145; Fax: 515-288-5097.

 

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