Grassley sizes up infrastructure bill, prescription prices, re-election plans

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, appears on "Iowa Press" on May 7, 2021. (Screenshot via Iowa PBS)

Basic elements of Democratic President Joe Biden’s multi-trillion-dollar infrastructure plan could find bipartisan support, U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley said Friday.

“I think there is a good prospect,” Grassley, R-Iowa, said, “not on the $2.6 trillion (proposal) but what is traditionally infrastructure — roads, bridges, broadband, municipal infrastructure. That is 25% of the $2.6 trillion.”

Grassley, during an interview on “Iowa Press,” said there is “already agreement among Republicans that is not very much different from what the president has (proposed).”

He said he’s “very confident” the Senate can pass an infrastructure bill. “It’s badly needed in Iowa, not so much for highways, although they need it, but broadband is very important and we’ve learned a lot from the (pandemic) with distance learning and with telehealth that when we have these pockets that people don’t get served, we need broadband.”

Prescription prices 

Grassley said Biden’s approach, influenced by Sen. Bernie Sanders and other progressives, could limit the range of drugs doctors could prescribe with the support of government programs. “I think if you take it step by step, there’s a good process, a good chance the Grassley-Wyden Bill could become law that would reduce prescription drug prices,” Grassley said. He co-authored the bill with Democrat Ron Wyden of Oregon. 

Grassley has said the Congressional Budget Office estimated the legislation would save taxpayers $95 billion.

Re-election bid

Asked again if he’s running for re-election, Grassley, 87, repeated his stance that he will decide in the fall. When asked about an Iowa Poll showing a majority of Iowans don’t want him to run for an eighth term, he said he doesn’t pay much attention to polls. Later, when asked about poll results should his lowest approval rating in 40 years, he said, “I’ll have to take that into consideration.”

Grassley has filed papers required to launch a campaign, and on Friday repeated that part of his strategy in waiting to announce a decision is that he doesn’t want a longer-than-necessary campaign. 

“I think that it’s just a matter of a year being long enough to campaign. I think it’s also a reflection and I ought to give it some greater thought and listen to the people of Iowa and listen to my family and I’ll just be making that decision sometime this fall,” Grassley said.

Trump’s influence

Iowa’s senior senator seemed to downplay the influence of former President Donald Trump on the Republican Party in the coming campaigns.

I think there’s too much focus on thinking that the Republican Party is one party, a national party, and somehow he is a former president, (so) he is going to lead it,” Grassley said. “He may end up doing that, but you aren’t going to know that for two or three years.

“In the meantime, we have got 50 separate Republican parties and each of them take care of themselves and we’re a party from the grassroots up and you’ll know who the leader of our party really is come either early 2024 when they sew it up or at the national convention,” Grassley said. “In the meantime, everybody is out there doing their own thing, including probably four or five of my fellow senators that are running for the United States presidency.” 

“Iowa Press” airs Friday and Sunday on Iowa PBS.

Perry Beeman
Senior reporter Perry Beeman has nearly 40 years of experience in Iowa journalism and has won national awards for environmental and business writing. He has written for The Des Moines Register and the Business Record, where he also served as managing editor. He also is former editorial director of Grinnell College. He co-authored the recently published book, "The $80 Billion Gamble," which details the lottery-rigging case of Eddie Tipton.