Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

January 10, 2013

Grassley hopeful new chair will force Senate budget passage

Steve Woodhouse
Journal-Express

Knoxville — The United States Senate has failed in its Constitutional duty to pass a budget every year. No budget has passed the Senate since 2009, and Sen. Chuck Grassley is hopeful the new budget committee chair will spur passage of a new spending plan. 

Grassley was asked in a telephone interview this morning if he felt the fiscal cliff negotiations would allow House Republicans to pressure Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to allow action on a budget.

"I wish I could answer that question," Grassley said. He added that Senate Republicans have given Reid "a hard time" for not passing a budget. Soon, Americans will feel the impact of the Senate's failure and action will have to be taken.

Grassley is confident that new Budget Committee Chair Patty Murray (D-Washington) will want to have a budget passed under her leadership. 

"American families, who even in the midst of this economic crisis, have found ways to stretch their own dollars and balance their own budgets, deserve more from Washington, D.C. They are tired of being party to political impasses that threaten their own livelihoods, especially when they solve problems every day by seeking and finding common ground. I share their frustration. These families deserve more than partial solutions," reads an excerpt from a Murray press release regarding the "fiscal cliff" legislation. 

"I'm sure she's going to want to pass a budget," Grassley said. He believes the House should pressure the Senate to act on a budget. 

Guns, Mental Health

Grassley was asked about the Senate's reaction to the Newtown, Conn., massacre. He was asked if he felt the problem was with guns or mental health. 

Grassley believes people who commit mass shootings have mental health problems, and that states should provide mental health diagnoses to a federal database to try to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people. 

However, in the case of Newtown, the shooter stole the guns from his mother. Grassley believes that limiting purchases and other new laws, are not the answer to these issues. 

Wind Energy Tax Credit

The Wind Energy Tax Credit was renewed for a year in the "fiscal cliff" legislation, but Grassley is hopeful that the credit will not be necessary within four years. He believes at that point, the industry will have reached maturity and will no longer need the government aid. New legislation also allows the credit to be extended to those who have a tower under construction by Dec. 31, 2013. Grassley started the tax credit in 1992. 

Medical Marijuana

Grassley has fought to make synthetic marijuana, such as K2, illegal. Recently, states have legalized real marijuana. He has few, if any, objections to use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, but will not support the legalization of marijuana for recreational use until studies have been complete to see if it is a "gateway drug" that leads people to try harder substances.