Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

September 12, 2013

Grassley picks the Hawkeyes

Steve Woodhouse

Knoxville — Sen. Chuck Grassley, a University of Northern Iowa alumnus, says he is not cheering for Iowa or Iowa State on Saturday, but he believes the Hawkeyes will win. 

Grassley made the comments this morning during a telephone interview. He said on any given Saturday, he is hoping for a victory for all three schools. That is, unless the Cyclones or Hawkeyes happen to be playing the Panthers. As for Saturday, he is hoping for a good Cy-Hawk game. 

On a more serious note, Grassley responded to a question regarding reports of the Central Intelligence Agency supplying equipment to Syrian rebels, to support the rebels in their civil war. Grassley said the equipment is being supplied because of an order given by President Obama four months ago. 

Grassley added that many believe this should have been done years ago. He blames the late response on the House and Senate intelligence committees. 

The equipment is America's way of supporting the rebels without endangering the lives of our servicepeople by putting boots on the ground. According to Grassley, 75 percent of the Syrian rebels are considered to be moderate, or secular. The other 25 percent pushing for Syrian President Bashir Assad's ouster are not native Syrians, but those linked to al-Qaeda. America is supplying equipment with the additional goal of keeping it out of the hands of al-Qaeda. 

Grassley believes military action should be a last resort by the United States in Syria. He believes the day is coming for Assad's removal from leadership, but this will be done through the civil war. As far as America's stance on the use of chemical weapons, which questions still exist whether or not the weapons were used by Assad or the rebels, that has not changed. 

In regard to domestic issues, Grassley is confident that a Farm, Food and Jobs Bill of some kind will not be passed by the Sept. 30 deadline, but there will be one. 

The issue regarding this bill is finding common ground regarding the amount dedicated to the Supplemental Nutrition Aid Program (SNAP), the food stamp program. The bulk of the bill commonly referred to as the "Farm Bill" (80 percent) is spent on SNAP. 

Republicans have proposed spending decreases between $20-40 billion on SNAP. Democrats have aimed for $2-4 billion. The current US federal spending deficit, spending above and beyond income, is $768 billion. 

When asked if it was possible to separate SNAP from the government's farm programs, Grassley does not believe this is possible. He once voted to separate them, but added this was symbolic, as a way to express his druthers about the difference between the two. 

He is supportive of the Farm, Food and Jobs Bill because he believes everyone in the country benefits from it. 

The audio from this interview will be posted on Grassley's website,