Grassley to chair Senate Finance Committee

U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley told reporters today that he will lead the Senate Finance Committee in the new Congress. The current chair, Senator Orrin Hatch, is retiring. Grassley's official website notes,

Senator Grassley calls this committee the quality of life committee because of the committee’s jurisdiction, which includes all tax matters, health care, Social Security; Medicare, Medicaid, social services, unemployment compensation, tariffs and international trade. Legislation acted on by the Committee on Finance raises virtually all federal revenue, and expenditures authorized by this committee represent as much as two-thirds of the federal budget.

Elana Schor reported for Politico,

“The economy is better than it’s been in years and there’s a sense of optimism about the future of our country that people haven’t felt in a long time thanks to the pro-growth policies of a Republican President and a Republican majority in Congress,” Grassley said. “Looking ahead, at the Finance Committee, I want to continue to work to make sure that as many Americans as possible get to experience this good economy for themselves."

Iowa's senior senator chaired the Finance Committee during part of George W. Bush's presidency and was ranking member when Democrats controlled the Senate in 2001-2002 and 2007-2010. His most influential act as ranking member was sabotaging the Affordable Care Act. Grassley strung then-Finance chair Max Baucus and President Barack Obama along for months, pretending to negotiate in good faith and winning many concessions as Democrats drafted the health care reform law. All the while, he fundraised on a promise to block "Obama-care" and mischaracterized the bill with talking points like "pull the plug on grandma."

Grassley switched to ranking member on Senate Judiciary after the 2010 election. As chair of that committee since January 2015, he has shattered many long-held norms. Under the first year of Grassley's leadership, the committee confirmed the fewest judicial nominees in a half-century. The next year, Grassley refused to give Obama's Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland a hearing, which was unprecedented. In his third year as Judiciary chair, Grassley helped confirm a record number of President Donald Trump's court picks and shredded the "blue slip" convention, which long allowed senators to block judicial nominees from their home states.

Senator Lindsey Graham is widely expected to succeed Grassley as Judiciary chair. He has transformed over the past two years from one of Trump's most vocal critics in Congress to a leading enabler for the president.

Grassley will replace Hatch as senate president pro tempore, a position that traditionally goes to the member of the majority caucus with the most seniority.

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