During his weekly video address, Chuck Grassley discusses legislation he co-sponsored that would require Congress to give final approval before major federal regulations can take effect.

Senator Grassley:  "I would like to visit with you about the runaway federal government bureaucracy. Consequently, this week I joined a group of senators introducing a bill that would require Congress to give final approval to major federal regulations before those regulations can take effect.

The new bill responds to growing regulatory burden and its negative impact on job creation.  The Constitution vests all legislative power in the Congress, which is the branch most accountable to the people.  Yet, year after year, Congress passes legislation that delegates more power to the executive branch.  In doing so, it also fails to assess the full impact of those laws and how that power is used.  As a result, federal agencies are increasingly bypassing Congress and imposing new regulations that Congress never intended.  Unfortunately, these regulations often have grave consequences for average Americans that don't appear to be explored or are ignored by the federal agency.

For instance, a tidal wave of new regulations is hitting the private sector with health care reform and other big pieces of legislation like the financial system regulation.  The uncertainty about the real impact and cost of these new regulations, along with the uncertainty of looming tax increases, make it much harder for employers to make commitments to create new jobs and hire workers.

The financial burdens of new regulations are estimated to be in the many trillions of dollars.  The Heritage Foundation estimates that the rules issued by the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate carbon dioxide alone could reach nearly $7 trillion in the next 20 years.  This is a cost that Americans simply can't handle.

This bill is a step in the right direction.  It will help establish greater accountability for major regulations handed down from the executive branch.  And, it will restore some badly needed checks and balances in our system of government that have been eroded."

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Senator Chuck Grassley made the comment below about the Senate Majority Leader delaying a decision on whether to raise taxes until after the November elections.  As Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Grassley worked to get through Congress bipartisan tax relief, including the 2001 across-the-board rate reduction.  This legislation made the tax code more progressive.  It reduced the tax rate on the lowest taxable income from 15 to 10 percent. It removed millions of low-income workers from the tax rolls entirely.  It increased the child tax credit from $500 to $1,000 and expanded the credit to low-income people without any tax liability.  The legislation included marriage penalty tax relief.  Twelve Democratic senators supported the 2001 legislation.  Two years later, after 9-11, Grassley worked to get through dividends and capital gains tax rate cuts to help spur economic growth.  The result was more revenue to the federal Treasury.  The expanding economy helped reduce the annual budget deficit from $415 billion in 2004 to $167 billion in 2007.

Grassley comment:

"This delay is irresponsible and reckless.  It's no wonder the American people are fed up with the leadership of Congress.  Every family in America faces a major tax increase next year because the Senate majority leader has failed to take action to prevent it.  Without congressional action, a family of four who earns $50,000 will see a $2,155 increase next year.  If congressional leaders are stalling in order to protect their members from votes or to raise more revenue for even more government spending, they are completely out of touch with reality.  People understand the problem isn't that they're taxed too little, but that Washington spends too much.

"Leaving people with uncertainty is a dereliction of duty.  One party has control of the White House and both houses of Congress and still can't get the people's business done.  And uncertainty is terrible for the economy.  Small businesses don't hire people while they sit in limbo, wondering if they'll get hit with a tax increase."

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Senator Chuck Grassley made the comment below about the Senate Majority Leader delaying a decision on whether to raise taxes until after the November elections.  As Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Grassley worked to get through Congress bipartisan tax relief, including the 2001 across-the-board rate reduction.  This legislation made the tax code more progressive.  It reduced the tax rate on the lowest taxable income from 15 to 10 percent. It removed millions of low-income workers from the tax rolls entirely.  It increased the child tax credit from $500 to $1,000 and expanded the credit to low-income people without any tax liability.  The legislation included marriage penalty tax relief.  Twelve Democratic senators supported the 2001 legislation.  Two years later, after 9-11, Grassley worked to get through dividends and capital gains tax rate cuts to help spur economic growth.  The result was more revenue to the federal Treasury.  The expanding economy helped reduce the annual budget deficit from $415 billion in 2004 to $167 billion in 2007.

Grassley comment:

"This delay is irresponsible and reckless.  It's no wonder the American people are fed up with the leadership of Congress.  Every family in America faces a major tax increase next year because the Senate majority leader has failed to take action to prevent it.  Without congressional action, a family of four who earns $50,000 will see a $2,155 increase next year.  If congressional leaders are stalling in order in order to protect their members from votes or to raise more revenue for even more government spending, they are completely out of touch with reality.  People understand the problem isn't that they're taxed too little, but that Washington spends too much.

"Leaving people with uncertainty is a dereliction of duty.  One party has control of the White House and both houses of Congress and still can't get the people's business done.  And uncertainty is terrible for the economy.  Small businesses don't hire people while they sit in limbo, wondering if they'll get hit with a tax increase."

Senators Call on Obama to Fire Government Watchdog for Afghanistan

The group expresses frustration with president's failure to act sooner

WASHINGTON, D.C. - A bipartisan group of four senators today called on President Barack Obama to fire the government watchdog responsible for investigating tax dollar misuse in Afghanistan amid mounting evidence of incompetence and mismanagement.  U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO), along with Senators Tom Coburn (R-OK), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Charles Grassley (R-IA), sent a letter asking the president to remove Arnold Fields as the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR).

"It has been clear for several months that SIGAR's mission is not being served effectively.  It is for this reason that we have concluded that SIGAR would be better served with new leadership," the letter states.

Over the past 18 months, all four senators have repeatedly raised concerns regarding SIGAR's performance, but recent actions by Fields have spurred the senators to more aggressively press the president for action.  Fields exhibited questionable judgment by entering into a no-bid $95,000 contract with Joseph Schmitz as a consultant for the agency.  Schmitz, a former Department of Defense Inspector General, resigned among serious allegations of misconduct, including obstructing criminal investigations, quashing audits, and misleading Congress.  He has been hired to independently monitor SIGAR's performance in implementing the recommendations of Council of Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE).  CIGIE is an independent government organization that reviews the work of inspectors general and found earlier this year a number of serious deficiencies in SIGAR's performance.

Beyond calling for Fields' dismissal and expressing outrage over the hiring of Schmitz, the senators also expressed their frustration with the president's failure to change SIGAR leadership sooner.

"We urge you to act now.  We are disappointed by your Administration's ongoing failure to take decisive action to improve SIGAR," they wrote in the letter.

CIGIE recently released three reviews of SIGAR, and found numerous problems with the agency's work, including their failure to meet minimum standards for their investigations.  The reviews also found that the agency has no meaningful strategic plan for their audits and investigations and that leadership at SIGAR remains more concerned with the quantity of their work rather than the quality.

A copy of the letter is available here.

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Sen. Chuck Grassley, ranking member of the Finance Committee, today made the following comment on news that state insurance commissioners told the White House that insurers in several states may not be able to meet the Medical Loss Ratio requirement set for next year in the health care overhaul law, and reports that Susan Voss, president-elect of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners and Iowa's insurance commissioner, asked the federal government for a gradual phasing-in of the requirement in Iowa to avoid having consumers lose their insurance if companies are forced to exit the market.

"News that Iowa is already seeking to delay some of the new insurance requirements in the partisan health care overhaul is just more proof of how poorly this law was put together.  Concerns have already been raised about how the new federal Medical Loss Ratio (MLR) standard will hinder disease management programs and efforts to reduce fraud and abuse, but now it is clear that the timeline for this new standard may also cause Iowans to lose their coverage.  Since the health care bill was written behind closed doors without public input or bipartisan support, it's not surprising that we're seeing states trying to avoid all the flawed policies that are scheduled to go into effect over the next few years."

Thursday, September 23, 2010

WASHINGTON - Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa today joined fellow foster youth advocates to release new data showing the educational playing field is not level for children in foster care, whose academic careers are often affected by multiple school relocations.  Grassley is founder and co-chair of the Senate Caucus on Foster Youth and ranking member of the Finance Committee, with jurisdiction over foster care programs.

"One of the primary goals of the Senate Caucus on Foster Youth is to get these kids involved in shaping the policy that affects them," Grassley said.  "We've heard firsthand from foster youth how hard it is to stay in the same school. A foster youth might get a new placement that's a few miles from his current school, yet have to switch schools because of school district rules. New schools don't always accept paperwork from the old school. Congress needs to look at whatever can be done to ease the burden on these kids and help them make healthy, lasting connections. And we'll continue to hear from the kids themselves as we move forward on policy."

Grassley joined a news conference held by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute and Fostering Media Connections to release preliminary findings from a pilot program showing that foster youth in four counties in California are less likely than their closely matched peers and the general student population to achieve proficiency in English and math at all grade levels.

As one of the principal drafters of the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 - the most significant foster youth legislation to become law in recent years -- Grassley supported provisions to promote stability in educational placements for youth in foster care.

Earlier this year, Grassley spearheaded a request from the Senate Caucus on Foster Youth to the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee encouraging the committee to hear from foster youth in hearings on the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. The committee agreed and heard testimony from a former foster youth.

To watch video of Grassley's remarks at today's press conference, please click here.

WASHINGTON, DC - Sept. 21, 2010 - This week, more than 100 nonprofit home health and hospice leaders will convene on Capitol Hill for the Visiting Nurse Associations of America (VNAA) Public Policy Leadership Conference (PPLC), September 22-23, to educate lawmakers about the nonprofit home health and hospice delivery systems and the vulnerable patients they serve.

A primary focus of this year's conference is to reduce the additional case-mix creep cuts and increase flexibility in new regulatory burdens such as the face-to-face visit requirements. PPLC attendees will also welcome VNAA's 2010 Congressional Champions and Congressional staff award recipients during the Capitol Hill Reception on Wednesday evening. Congressional Champions Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Representative John Lewis (D-GA) and Representative Bruce Braley (D-IA) are planning to attend. Appearances by other VNAA Champions and additional members of Congress and their staff are also expected. A full listing of this year's Congressional Champions and Congressional staff award recipients is available on the VNAA's Website.

The PPLC exposes attendees to expert speakers on healthcare reform implementation and the CMS proposed rule for home health and hospice. Conference speakers include :

  • Jennifer Beeson, Director of Government Affairs at Families USA.
  • Dr. Mary Naylor, FAAN, RN, Medicare Payment Advisory Commissioner (MedPAC) and Professor in Gerontology at the University of Pennsylvania.
  • Congressional Panel consisting of congressional staff from key committees to healthcare, such as Chuck Clapton (HELP Committee), Tony Clapsis (Senate Finance Committee), Jennifer Friedman (Subcommittee on Health, Ways and Means) and others.
  • Panel of Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) officials from the Center for Medicare Management, Center for Medicaid, CHIP and Survey and Certification and the Office of Clinical Standards and Quality.

 

View a full PPLC agenda, speaker listing and the VNAA's comments on the latest home health and hospice regulations, visit www.AdvocacyConference.org.

 

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WASHINGTON - Sept 10, 2010 - Senator Chuck Grassley today said that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Division of Grants Operations Management awarded a $396,000 grant to Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport.

Palmer College will use the money to fund a research focused initiative.

Each year, thousands of local Iowa organizations, colleges and universities, individuals and state agencies apply for competitive grants from the federal government.  The funding is then awarded based on each local organization or individual's ability to meet criteria set by the federal entity administering the funds.

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Sen. Chuck Grassley today made the following comment on tax proposals from the White House that are meant to encourage business investment:

"It's the old saying, the devil is in the details. Business investment incentives sound fine, but will they be paid for in a way that hurts job creation? The White House and congressional Democrats enacted a big state aid package in August that was paid for with a permanent tax increase on companies with overseas operations. Some of the biggest employers in Iowa -- John Deere, Rockwell Collins, and IBM - opposed the August bill.  The National Association of Manufacturers said the tax increases in that bill 'will jeopardize the jobs of American manufacturing employees and stifle our fragile economy.' So if the offsets for this new package are other tax increases, then it's a non-starter.  And it's disturbing that small businesses continue to get short shrift.  According to a November 2009 study from the Government Accountability Office, most of the benefits of the research and development tax credit go to large corporations. According to the non-partisan Joint Committee on Taxation, 50 percent of all small business flow-through income will be subject to a tax increase in January under the White House and congressional majority's plans. Small businesses create 70 percent of new jobs.  Raising taxes on job creators is the worst thing we could do right now."

WASHINGTON - September 7, 2010 - Chuck Grassley today requested further information about the process used by the U.S. Department of Agriculture when employees at monitored farms come forward to USDA officials with food safety concerns.

"Americans have enjoyed one of the safest and most abundant food supplies in the world.  Confidence in our food supply is very important.  First and foremost is the safety of the consumer.  But, also, if the consumer doesn't have confidence in our food supply, it impacts the farmer," Grassley said.  "To maintain that confidence, it's important we evaluate and ask questions about where things might have fallen through the cracks so it doesn't happen again."

Grassley's letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack follows press reports about complaints raised by individuals at the facilities involved in the egg recall.

The letter asks if the Department received complaints and what was done to investigate the concerns.  Grassley also asks about the Food Safety Inspection Service's responsibilities at the two farms.

In addition, Grassley asked about the procedures in place when concerns are raised in areas of joint jurisdiction, such as the USDA and the FDA in this particular instance.

Here's a copy of the text of Grassley's letter.

September 7, 2010

Secretary Tom Vilsack

U.S. Department of Agriculture

1400 Independence Ave SW

Washington, DC 20250

Dear Secretary Vilsack,

The recent egg recalls due to a Salmonella outbreak at Wright County Egg and Hillandale Farms in Iowa have troubled consumers and weakened confidence in our nation's food supply. When Americans visit their local grocery stores, they should be able to trust that the food they are purchasing to feed their family is safe to consume.

Recent media reports indicate that former company employees reported food safety problems they had observed while working at Wright County Egg. While I understand that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authority over shell eggs, has issued the egg recall and is involved in the investigation of the Salmonella outbreak, USDA does have primary jurisdiction over egg product safety and has non-food safety employees located at farms including Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) graders.

In light of the complaints raised by these individuals, please answer following the questions:

1) Did USDA receive complaints from company employees and if so, what was done to investigate these concerns?

2) What were the Food Safety Inspection Service's (FSIS) responsibilities in relation to these two farms?  When was the last FSIS inspection conducted?

3) Is there an established process so that USDA employees (such as AMS graders) or company employees and other individuals can report possible food safety violations to FSIS?

4) Is there an established process for USDA employees to report food safety concerns to the FDA when they fall outside of USDA's jurisdiction?

5) What is USDA doing to counter deficiencies in food safety communication within the USDA and between the two agencies?  How are USDA and FDA coordinating to best address food safety concerns and ensure that food safety problems do not fall through the cracks?

Thank you for your prompt response to this important issue.

Sincerely,

Charles E. Grassley

United States Senator

 

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