Business & Economy
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Grassley Press   
Friday, 23 December 2011 15:49

Defense Contractor Salary Cap Included in Defense Authorization Bill Awaiting President Obama’s Signature

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Congressman Paul Tonko (D-NY) today called on the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to immediately implement a new benchmark for taxpayer-funded salaries for defense contractors, especially in light of the National Defense Authorization Act’s new provision that will ensure that all defense contractor employees are subject to the same limit on taxpayer-funded salaries.

Currently government contractors can charge taxpayers $693,951 for the salaries of their top five employees, based on an executive compensation benchmark last amended in 1998. Employees of government contractors outside of the top five can and do earn taxpayer-funded amounts in excess of the current benchmark.

The Administration has already told lawmakers that it considers the current cap on taxpayer-funded salaries for contractors to be “unreasonably high.” But the Administration has not yet released its salary benchmark for 2011, even as 2012 quickly approaches.

In their letter, the legislators urged OMB to implement the National Defense Authorization Act’s new rules quickly and provide lawmakers with regular updates on its progress in addressing this important issue.  The National Defense Authorization Act was enacted earlier this month.

The text of the letter follows:


December 19, 2011

The Honorable Jacob J. Lew

Office of Management and Budget
725 17th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20503


Dear Director Lew:

We write to follow up on a letter we sent in September 2011 regarding the executive compensation benchmark for government contractors.  As we are now only days away from the start of 2012, we note that you have still not announced the new benchmark for 2011.

The National Defense Authorization Act of 2011 (NDAA) includes an important provision that extends the benchmark to all employees of defense contractors, with narrowly targeted exceptions for scientists and engineers.  While we were disappointed that the final conference language did not include the exact language of the Boxer-Grassley amendment to align the benchmark with the salary of the President of the United States, we are encouraged that real savings will result from applying the benchmark to all defense contractor employees.

As you noted in your response to our previous letter, increases in the compensation benchmark are “forcing our taxpayers to cover levels of compensation that we in the Administration view as unreasonably high.”  We could not agree more with your statement - which is why we are requesting that OMB implement this law as soon as possible.

Section 803 of the NDAA requires that regulations to enforce this provision be implemented within 180 days of enactment of the law.  To ensure that new regulations are published in the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) no later than July 2012, we request that you provide us, in writing, with regular updates on the FAR Council’s progress in complying with the law.

We believe that taxpayers should not be on the hook for exorbitant contractor salaries, and we look forward to your prompt response.



Barbara Boxer

United States Senator


Chuck Grassley

United States Senator


Paul D. Tonko

United States Representative




Q & A on Country of Origin Labeling PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Sen Chuck Grassley   
Friday, 23 December 2011 14:42
U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley


Q:        Why do people have a beef with labeling the origin of the meat sold in grocery stores?

A:        A lot of people want to know where the food on their tables comes from.  Today, many food retailers are required to inform consumers about the country of origin of fresh fruits and vegetables, seafood, peanuts, pecans, macadamia nuts, ginseng, and ground muscle cuts of beef, pork, lamb, chicken and goat, thanks to legislation first passed as part of the farm bill in 2002, and updated along with the farm bill in 2008.  The origin of almost everything you buy in the United States is labeled, so it’s a no-brainer to provide the same information about meat and produce.  Consumers deserve to know, and for producers, it’s a positive opportunity to build consumer confidence.  Unfortunately, making the law a reality for meat labeling, in particular, was a long and difficult process.  For too long, the U.S. Department of Agriculture delayed implementation by relying on inaccurate information provided by meat processors and containing gross over-estimates about the cost of providing this information to consumers.  Before the 2008 update, congressional committees responsible for funding agricultural programs withheld funds for COOL.

Q:        What’s the situation today?

A:        In November, the World Trade Organization (WTO) sided with Canada and Mexico in a challenge by those countries both to COOL rules and voluntary suggestions from the administration to provide useful origin information to consumers.  A trade dispute resolution panel of the WTO said the United States has the authority to require labeling, but the way our program works is unfair to livestock producers in Canada and Mexico.  That’s baloney.  The labeling system in place in the United States gives imported livestock the same opportunity to compete in the U.S. marketplace that it had before COOL was implemented.  What’s more, Canada, Mexico and other countries require country-of-origin information to be provided to consumers in their own countries.

Q:        What can be done about the WTO ruling?

A:        At this point, the panel decision either will be adopted by a WTO Dispute Settlement Body, or an appeal to the decision will be considered by a WTO Appellate Body.  Some groups are urging the administration to find a way to settle the dispute without further WTO proceedings, but it’s time for top U.S. officials to appeal without delay.  In December, I urged the U.S. Trade Representative, Ron Kirk, and the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Iowa’s former governor Tom Vilsack, to challenge the panel decision.  Eighteen other senators signed the letter which also urged these agency leaders to make sure that the COOL program meets international trade obligations while continuing to provide valuable information to consumers.  The administration’s handling of this WTO dispute will be closely monitored by many of us in Congress.  I encourage them to take all necessary steps to defend our COOL regulations.  America’s farmers deliver an abundant, affordable and safe food supply, and they deserve credit for it.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Braley Statement on 2012 Federal Appropriations Bill and Middle Class Tax Extension PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Jeff Giertz   
Tuesday, 20 December 2011 15:56

Urges bipartisan cooperation on extending middle class tax cut 


Washington, DC – Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) released the following statement after supporting an agreement on a bill that funds US government operations through 2012:

“It’s disappointing that Congress failed to do its job for months and didn’t pass a bill to keep the government operating until today.  I’m relieved that there won’t be a government shutdown for the holidays.


“The political jockeying over extending the middle class payroll tax cut needs to stop.  Extending the middle class tax cut is simply the right thing to do.  This tax cut has everything to do with strengthening the economy; it shouldn’t have anything to do with Republicans or Democrats scoring political points.  I urge Congressional leaders to put their differences aside and extend these vital tax cuts for Iowa families.”


Extending the middle class Social Security payroll tax holiday for an additional year would mean an average Iowa family making $50,000 per year would save $1,000 on their taxes.


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Grassley on the MF Global Collapse PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Grassley Press   
Tuesday, 20 December 2011 15:06

During his weekly video address, Senator Chuck Grassley discusses revelations made during the Senate Agriculture Committee hearing regarding the MF Global collapse in which up to $1.2 billion in customer funds was lost – including money from Iowa farmers and brokers.

Click here for audio.

Here is the text of the address:

This week’s oversight hearing in the Senate Agriculture Committee on the MF Global collapse yielded some revelations on what happened and who knew what when.

An executive of a financial exchange that oversees MF Global testified that the former head of the firm may have known the firm was using customer funds to make a $175 million loan to a European affiliate.  This statement from the head of the CME Group struck another senator on the Agriculture Committee as a “bomb.”

It strikes me as a bombshell, too, because just minutes before, Mr. Jon Corzine continued to express his lack of understanding of how MF Global lost up to $1.2 billion in customer funds – including money from Iowa farmers and brokers.

The revelation wasn’t in any prepared testimony.  It came in response to senators’ questions.

It goes to show that congressional oversight yields results.

Those responsible can and should be brought to account, whether it’s firms playing fast and loose with customer money in violation of the law or the regulators who are supposed to stop malfeasance.


Braley Joins Bipartisan Majority to Support Middle Class Tax Cut PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Jeff Giertz   
Monday, 19 December 2011 15:50

Every working Iowan will benefit from payroll tax cut extension 


Washington, DC – Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) today released the following statement after crossing party lines to support a Republican bill that would extend a payroll tax cut for the middle class for an additional year:

“Unless Congress acts, the average Iowa family could see their taxes go up by $1,000 on January 1st,” Braley said.  “Extending the middle class tax cut and keeping money in the pockets of hard-working families is a sure-fire way to fuel economic growth.


“People in this country are desperate for leadership and they don’t care about labels, they care about results. To me, extending tax cuts for middle class families is more important than Washington politics.  This bill isn’t about Republicans or Democrats– it’s about strengthening our economy and stopping a tax increase from hurting middle class families in the middle of a recession.


“I’m not crazy about many of the extra provisions contained in this bill.  In fact, I have serious reservations about the adjustments it makes to public health funding, unemployment insurance, and Medicare reimbursements.  But Iowa’s middle class families can’t afford inaction from Congress on extending these tax cuts.”

The legislation would extend for an additional year a 2 percent Social Security payroll tax holiday that was first passed at the end of 2010.   An average American family making $50,000 per year would save $1,000 with the extension of the tax cut.

The legislation also extends unemployment insurance for out-of-work Americans for 13 months, through January 31st, 2013.

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