Grassley makes stop at MEMBERS1st in Marshalltown

T-R PHOTO BY ROBERT MAHARRY MEMBERS1ST Director of Remote Sales and Services Julie Wagoner, left, showcases a video banking feature for U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), at the South 12th Avenue Marshalltown location during a stop on the Senator’s 99 county tour Wednesday morning.

U.S. Senator Charles Grassley’s annual 99 county tours — or “Full Grassleys,” as they’re now colloquially known — have become the stuff of legend in Iowa political circles, and he crossed Marshall County off the list with a visit and question and answer session at the MEMBERS1ST Credit Union location on South 12th Avenue Wednesday morning.

After introducing himself to the audience of MEMBERS1ST employees and other guests in attendance, the Republican lawmaker responded to submitted questions on everything from his support of President Joe Biden’s infrastructure bill to inflation and gas prices to potential vaccine mandates, the origins of the COVID-19 virus and the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine.

Grassley also fielded a few more locally focused questions — one from YSS of Marshall County Director David Hicks inviting him to the opening of a new campus near Cambridge in August and asking how he could continue to support programs like the Marshalltown Police and Community Team (MPACT) and address mental health at the federal level, and another from Marshalltown Area Chamber of Commerce President/CEO John Hall regarding federal funding for the Highway 14 Corridor improvement project.

In response to Hicks, Grassley said he voted against a recent gun reform and mental health bill passed after the Uvalde, Texas, school shooting because of concerns about a lack of due process for those who may lose their Constitutional rights, but he did like some of the sections of the legislation focused on mental health and school security.

“When you get the mental health issue generally, where the rubber meets the road… I suppose there’s 50 different answers to that,” Grassley said. “A major problem is that we don’t have enough psychiatrists and enough psychologists, and you don’t force people to go into those (fields).”

Hall touted an increase in private investment along the corridor running from the city center to the north edge of town, specifically referencing Karl of Marshalltown’s announcement of a $20 million expansion plan, and hoped Iowa’s Congressional delegation would continue to fight for federal funding as the city applies for grants. MEMBERS1ST employees then showcased some of their services, including a video banking option for those who are not able to travel into town.

During a subsequent interview, the 88-year-old — who is seeking his eighth term in office and recently won the GOP nomination over primary challenger Jim Carlin — said he hasn’t paid much attention to his Democratic general election opponent, retired Navy Admiral Mike Franken, but he isn’t taking anything for granted.

“My method of campaigning all these years in the United States Senate has started with the philosophy of ‘If I just do my job right, I’m not going to have to worry about reelection,'” Grassley said. “I suppose that there’s things that (Franken) has put out there, but I usually let my campaign staff respond to those. I don’t worry much about it.”

Grassley said he did not foresee any further federal action on abortion laws now that the Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade, arguing the matter should be left to individual states. He added that during his most recent 99-county tour, inflation, gas prices and the southern border have been the most common topics of discussion, and he offered his thoughts on how to address surging costs both for energy and everyday goods.

“All these bad energy policies that this president has put in place — stopping the (Keystone XL) pipeline, putting restrictions on drilling, more regulations on fracking and not having banks loan to energy companies — has kind of shut down the energy industry,” he said. “Not really shut down, but they want to do more. But they see the federal government and Biden standing in their way, so the price shoots up. You can’t blame Putin because the price was up way before Feb. 24.”

Biden, Grassley opined, should reverse his policies instead of asking countries like Saudi Arabia and Venezuela for more oil to allow for energy independence within the U.S. The Senator concluded that he believes the 2022 midterm election will ultimately hinge on the issue of gas prices, and if the Republicans do regain majorities in the House and Senate, securing the southern border and finding long-term solutions on Social Security and Medicare would be his top priorities.

“I want people to come to this country within our laws, not violating our laws,” he said.


Contact Robert Maharry at 641-753-6611 ext. 255 or rmaharry@timesrepublican.com.


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