"You wouldn't think there would be any benefits come from a pandemic, but I guess people have a lot more time at home now and they're taking advantage of it. It's helping the sales here," Sen. Charles Grassley said April 1 following a town hall meeting in Clarinda hosted by H&H Trailers.
Prior to the outdoor meeting where Grassley responded to questions from members of the community, he had a chance to meet the leaders of H&H Trailer and tour the Clarinda facility. Grassley said he was impressed with the variety of trailers made by the company the workmanship that goes into their construction.
"The pandemic has actually enhanced their business and they can hire a lot more people," Grassley said.
The visit to Clarinda was part of a three-day tour of southwest Iowa during which Grassley will visit 12 counties. The tour started Tuesday, March 30, and concluded Thursday afternoon.
"I enjoy my work and this is part of the work. I think, if you're going to represent people in Washington, you have to know what's on their mind," Grassley, a Republican, said. "Seeing people face to face, like I'm talking to you now, is the best way."
Prior to arriving in Clarinda Thursday morning, Grassley visited Sidney High School. The rest of his schedule for the day included meeting with Chamber of Commerce members and small business owners in Bedford before concluding the day with a stop at Southwest Valley High School in Corning.
"Normally, I don't do two high schools in a day. But that's the way it worked out. If you want to know why I go to the high school, I never get people under 18 coming to my town meetings," Grassley said.
When Grassley returns to Washington, D.C., Grassley said there are two important bills he will be focusing on. One of those bills would be to lower the cost of prescription drugs and the other would aid agriculture in Iowa by improving the ability of cattle producers to negotiate slaughter prices.
Currently, Grassley said 80% of cattle slaughters are performed based on contracted prices or by companies that own their own cattle. As a result, independent cattle feeders only have a 20% chance of negotiating a daily slaughter price.
"That 20% is not law. That's just the way the market worked out. But my bill would make sure 50% of the daily slaughter comes from negotiated prices, so the independent cattlemen would have a market and get a fair price," Grassley said.
The bill Grassley proposed to reduce the price of prescription drugs was a bipartisan bill that carried over from last year. Grassley said his bill had also received the support of former President Donald Trump.
"I know President Biden wants to get prescription drugs down, but I don't know whether he's for my bill. He may have another approach. But that is going to be my major goal," Grassley said.
Bipartisanship was also one of the key points discussed by Grassley during the town hall meeting Thursday. Since taking office, Grassley said President Biden had one major chance to show his support for bipartisan legislation.
However, in that instance in February, Grassley said the Democrats passed a $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill directly along party lines.
"It didn't need to be that way because we had passed five bills helping the economy and the unemployed, and helping fight the virus, all by 90 plus votes in the United States Senate," Grassley said. "Ten Republican Senators, I wasn't one of them but I would have been glad to be one of them, asked for a meeting with the President to see if they could work out some compromise on what needed to be done in February for some additional help. They would not sit down and compromise at all. So it ended up passing on a purely party line vote."
Grassley said he has known Biden, who served in the Senate with Grassley, for 30 years. During that time he said Biden was always willing to work in a bipartisan manner.
"If he's President of the United States like he was a Senator, working in a bipartisan way, in a few months I'd be able to give him a B or an A grade. But I think that being President, to get the nomination, he had to compromise so much with the Sanders people. You know Senator Sanders was his main competition just before he got the nomination, and that's so radical. If he goes that direction, he won't get much bipartisanship at all. So far that's where he's headed. I hope he changes direction," Grassley said.