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Q&A: 99 County Meetings

September 16, 2016
Senator Chuck Grassley , Dysart Reporter

Q: Why do you hold meetings in every county, every year?

A: When Iowans first elected me to the U.S. Senate, I made the decision that I would do whatever it took to make representative government work and to keep in touch with my constituents. One of my priorities is holding meetings with Iowans in every county, at least once, every year. It's one of the most rewarding parts of my job to meet face-to-face with Iowans in their hometown communities to listen and learn what's on their minds. For 36 years in a row now, I have met that goal, holding my 99th county meeting this year in August with a well-attended event in Anamosa at the Jones County Courthouse. I appreciate that Iowans have busy lives and keep busy schedules. Not everyone can leave work at, say 10:30 a.m., to meet at the county courthouse for an hour. That's why I also schedule meetings in schools, factories, hospitals, and service clubs to reach a full spectrum of Iowans, from all ages and all walks of life. Although the location may differ from county to county, the forum remains the same. It's an open question-and-answer session, on any subject Iowans want to talk about. I let Iowans set the agenda. Fostering dialogue is essential for me to have the benefit of the views of my constituents when I go to bat for Iowa in Washington. In fact, the give-and-take I get from this two-way street is how our participatory democracy functions effectively. It helps shape public policy, alerts me to problems Iowans are having with the federal bureaucracy and gives me a dose of a reality so that I can be the check on regulations, taxes and laws that are coming out of Washington and impacting Iowans in your daily lives. It's important to note that while I hold meetings in every county at least once every year, I don't stop at 99 meetings. I often have multiple Q&A meetings in the same county. I fit in as much as I can when not voting in the Senate.

Q: What issues came up most frequently in 2016?

A: With it being a presidential election year, some of the issues under discussion on the national stage were given considerable attention in my county meetings in 2016. In that category, Iowans raised the following issues: Obamacare, student debt, the Supreme Court, trade, theSecond Amendment, immigration and federal regulations. I received a lot of feedback on a specific regulation being pushed by the Obama administration, known as the Waters of the United States (WOTUS). The Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued a rule that effectively would regulate 97 percent of the property in Iowa under the Clean Water Act as though it were all a waterway. It's a controversial rule because it's a convoluted overreach of federal law. I've supported efforts in Congress to go back to the drawing board to ensure all stakeholders have a seat at the table. In the meantime, the federal appeals court in the Sixth Circuit has issued a nationwide stay on WOTUS, blocking implementation to allow pending litigation to move forward. Already in 2001 and 2006, the U.S. Supreme Court knocked down efforts by the bureaucracy to claim such wide-ranging authority. And yet, the federal bureaucracy is taking another bite at the apple. The bottom line is that our system of checks and balances is more important than ever. The courts have rebuked President Obama's regulatory overreach not only on this issue, but also his immigration program and unconstitutional use of recess appointments. It's no surprise that Iowans are a well-informed electorate. As home to the nation's first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses, our citizens are very much up to speed on the issues and tuned into politics. More than two centuries ago, America declared independence from King George III's reign of tyranny. Our nation was founded on the principle of self-government, a government "of, by and for the people." As Iowa's U. S. Senator, I do whatever it takes to keep in touch with Iowans. From my meetings in each of Iowa's 99 counties, to my correspondence with Iowans who write, email or call my office to my communication on social media, I make it my job to listen. Representative government is a two-way street, so whether we connect on Main Street, by tele-hall town meetings that reach out to tens of thousands of households across the state or in cyberspace, I work to keep in touch.



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