WASHINGTON – Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa marked a series of policy and oversight accomplishments in 2017.

“Serving the people of Iowa as their United States Senator is my first priority and it’s an honor that I take seriously,” Grassley said. “As chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and through my extensive oversight efforts, my work focuses on making government more transparent, efficient and accountable to Iowans and all Americans.”

Grassley holds at least one meeting in each of Iowa’s 99 counties every year to hear concerns and answer questions on any subject from Iowans. In 2017, Grassley completed his annual county meetings for the 37th year in a row. Grassley holds meetings in a variety of settings to ensure that a broad cross-section of Iowans can participate, including businesses, schools, town meetings and factory floors. Although the setting may differ from county to county, the format is the same: Iowans set the agenda.

In addition to his annual meetings, Grassley also attended or convened a variety of events and forums, including: county farm bureau meetings, a WOTUS roundtable with Administrator Pruitt, a meeting with biodiesel stakeholders, a tour of the Iowa Veterans Home, an agriculture roundtable with Secretary Perdue, a tax roundtable discussion with local business owners, the Partnership for a Drug Free Iowa Digital Literacy Conference and met with Iowans at the state fair.

When the Senate is in session, Grassley sets aside eight 15-minute meetings every Monday through Thursday to meet with Iowans in Washington, D.C., including advocacy groups, associations, chambers of commerce and local business leaders, students and families. This Congress, Grassley met with nearly 950 groups of Iowans visiting the nation’s capital and discussed a variety of policy issues affecting Iowans such as anti-opioid addiction legislation, the farm bill, infrastructure, juvenile justice, sentencing reform, expiring tax provisions, the Affordable Care Act and tax reform. Grassley also joined eight Iowa schools for Q&As via video conferencing, including three college classes, three high school classes, and two middle school classes.

Highlights of Grassley’s legislative and oversight work follow here:

Accountability for sexual harassment and assault: After years of taking a backseat in societal debate, sexual misconduct has taken center stage and renewed an important conversation on Capitol Hill regarding sexual harassment. Grassley spearheaded the passage of the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995, which established the congressional Office of Compliance (OOC). The OOC offers sexual harassment prevention training to Senate offices, however it was not mandatory. Grassley wrote a letter to the leaders on Rules and Administration asking that committee to make sexual harassment training mandatory for all Senate offices. Soon after, the resolution offered by Grassley passed unanimously in the Senate, requiring regular training for all senators and employees.

Grassley also offered an amendment that recognizes and supports the goals and ideals of National Sexual Assault Awareness Month, which passed the Senate with unanimous consent.

Agriculture: Changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) would have a significant impact on Iowa farmers, the state’s economy and U.S. trade. Grassley emphasized his support of continuing NAFTA in a bipartisan letter to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, in which he pressed for an in-depth economic analysis to evaluate how changes to NAFTA would affect changes to the nation’s crop and livestock sectors.

Grassley reintroduced the Family Farmer Bankruptcy Clarification Act of 2017 to reverse a Supreme Court ruling (Hall v. United States) that made it harder for family farmers to reorganize their finances after declaring bankruptcy. The bill was included as part of the supplemental appropriations package and was signed into law by President Trump.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) withdrew two rules related to the Packers and Stockyards Act, commonly referred to as the “GIPSA rules.” As the only two farmers currently serving in the U.S. Senate, Grassley, along with Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), wrote a letter to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue to express their disagreement over the agency’s decision to withdraw these rules. Grassley also offered legislation to amend the Packers and Stockyards Act to make it unlawful for a packer to own, feed or control livestock intended for slaughter.

Grassley introduced the Food Security is National Security Act of 2017, which would give top U.S. agriculture and food officials permanent representation on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). It would also include new agriculture and food-related criteria for CFIUS to consider when reviewing transactions that could result in control of a U.S. business by a foreign company, ensuring the U.S. has the tools and people it needs to safeguard the nation’s food security, food safety, biosecurity and bring security to Iowa farmers and the U.S. farm sector as a whole.

As a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Grassley wrote a letter to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) requesting an update of its 2013 report on farm program eligibility in advance of the next farm bill. In 2014, Grassley led an effort to fix loopholes that allowed farmers to exploit the system by using non-farming family members to receive additional subsidies from the government. Both chambers of Congress passed his bipartisan amendment that included reforms to farm program eligibility, but the amendment was significantly watered down during conference and ultimately became law as part of the 2014 farm bill. Grassley continues work on this issue in order to help young Iowa farmers who cannot get started in farming because of non-farmers who receive substantial subsidies due to a rigged system.

Antitrust: The Senate passed Grassley’s Criminal Antitrust Anti-Retaliation Act, which would extend whistleblower protections for employees who provide information to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) related to criminal antitrust violations. This is part of Grassley’s decades-long effort to protect and empower whistleblowers. The legislation passed the Senate the past two Congresses, but has not been taken up by the House of Representatives.

Grassley, along with House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), called on the DOJ and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to work with the U.S. Trade Representative to make strong competition provisions a central part of upcoming trade negotiations. In their letter, Grassley and Goodlatte encouraged the federal antitrust agencies to include a competition chapter in NAFTA to establish a high standard for competition chapters in future trade negotiations.

Bureau of Prisons: In 2016, an inspector general review concluded that 157 inmates were erroneously released either before or after their scheduled release dates – sometimes by multiple years – between 2009 and 2014. In his role as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Grassley called on the Federal Bureau of Prisons to explain why recommendations aimed at preventing untimely release of federal inmates remain unimplemented.

Criminal and Juvenile Justice Reform: Grassley, along with a bipartisan group of senators, reintroduced the landmark Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2017, which would recalibrate prison sentences for nonviolent drug offenders, target violent and career criminals and save taxpayer dollars. The bill would allow increased judicial discretion at sentencing for offenders with minimal criminal histories and help inmates successfully re-enter society. It would also tighten penalties for violent criminals and preserve key prosecutorial tools for law enforcement.

Grassley introduced the Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention Reauthorization Act of 2017. This bill takes steps to reduce the unnecessary incarceration of youth by securing new protections for minors and improve accountability measures in the federal juvenile justice grant program. The Senate unanimously passed this bipartisan bill to improve protections for minors who come into contact with the justice system.

Defense oversight: Grassley led a bipartisan group of senators in a letter to Secretary of Defense James Mattis calling for the DOD to comply with mandatory audits, which are long overdue by the department.

DOJ/ FBI: As a watchdog of the federal bureaucracy, Grassley continues staunch oversight of the various investigations being conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) in 2017, as well as his efforts to protect whistleblowers by pressing the FBI to explain why it has failed to update its whistleblower policies, employee trainings and internal communications to comply with the Federal Bureau of Investigation Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (FBI WPEA). Grassley introduced the new protections last Congress to bring FBI whistleblower policies in line with other federal agencies. The bipartisan bill was signed into law on December 16, 2016. Additionally, Grassley pressed the DOJ regarding the implementation of whistleblower protections at the FBI, outlining a series of concerns about whistleblower protections that have gone unaddressed despite government reports drawing attention to these problems and recommending changes.

Grassley called on the FBI to explain its advance knowledge and any plan to thwart a 2015 terrorist attack in Garland, Texas and pressed for answers on how an FBI translator was reportedly able to travel to Syria and marry the ISIS operative who she was supposed to be investigating.

With Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Grassley introduced the Combating Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing, and Counterfeiting Act of 2017. The legislation would modernize and strengthen criminal laws against money laundering, update criminal money laundering and counterfeiting statutes and promote transparency in the U.S. financial system.

Grassley and Feinstein also introduced the Strengthening State and Local Cyber Crime Fighting Act of 2017. The legislation would authorize for the first time the National Computer Forensics Institute (NCFI), which provides law enforcement with techniques and best practices for handling digital forensics evidence.

Grassley introduced the Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act, legislation that would put in place stricter rules to deter harmful, abusive and frivolous litigation.

Drug prices: Grassley continued his ongoing oversight efforts on drug pricing in 2017. He wrote several letters to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb expressing concerns and advocating for legislative solutions to problems on drug pricing and availability of generic prescription medications.

Along with Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Grassley wrote a letter to Gottlieb asking him to address anticompetitive practices currently used by some brand-name pharmaceutical companies to delay the manufacture and introduction of generic drugs in the market.

Grassley also led a group of bipartisan senators in a letter urging Gottlieb to address abuses in the regulatory process that delay competition and increase prescription drug costs. It advocates for the Creating and Restoring Equal Access to Equivalent Samples (CREATES) Act, legislation Grassley cosponsored earlier this year.

In another letter, Grassley called on Gottlieb to examine legislative proposals and collaborate with other government agencies to increase consumer access to affordable prescription medications. He encouraged a review of two bills that he has cosponsored to address anti-competitive behavior by drug makers and enhance market access to less costly generic medications. The Preserve Access to Affordable Generics Act and the CREATES Act.

For months, Grassley pressed for the accurate classification of prescription drugs under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program. In January, he sought answers from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) on whether it sought to recoup tax dollars overpaid for EpiPens from drug maker Mylan and added a new request for two additional drugs reportedly misclassified under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program – Dilaudid and Prilosec. He sent another letter to CMS later in January, reiterating his initial request for information.

Grassley’s work was prompted by the news that EpiPen maker Mylan was in discussions with the DOJ to settle a case and repay the taxpayers for over-charging for EpiPen. Grassley’s letter to then-President-elect Trump urging appropriate classification under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program is available here. Grassley’s January letter to the outgoing administration on the issue is available here.

Grassley also wrote to Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller seeking clarification regarding his office’s ability to determine the value of reimbursement to the state necessary to make Iowa whole from EpiPen’s apparent misclassification under Medicaid’s Drug Rebate Program. A few months later, Grassley followed up with another letter seeking additional details and accompanying documentation regarding the state’s receiving $1.5 million as part of a DOJ settlement with Mylan.

In February, Grassley, along with Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), urged then-Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom Price to use his statutory authority to fast track the importation of prescription drugs from Canada under certain circumstances as a remedy to recent drastic drug price increases in the United States.

In April, Grassley asked health insurer CareFirst to explain an apparent practice of charging customers more for receiving a brand name prescription drug than a generic drug when the insurer’s own doctors explicitly prescribed the brand name drug for medical reasons. Grassley also noted due process concerns about this potential practice if the insurer was not complying with its own policies. He also wrote a letter to Kaléo Pharmaceuticals, the maker of epinephrine injector Auvi-Q, to explain its pricing, including which entities in the health care system will pay the cited price of $4,500 for a two-pack when consumers without insurance will pay $360 for the product. Grassley said the pricing of Auvi-Q “appears to draw parallels with concern about EpiPen’s pricing structure.”

Education: Grassley introduced a series of bills aimed at providing students and their families a better idea of the true costs of higher education and giving them the tools needed to make informed decisions based on tuition costs, financial aid and loan and repayment options.

The Net Price Calculator Improvement Act would improve the effectiveness and access to net price calculators, tools that provide students with early, individualized estimates of higher education costs and financial aid figures before they decide where to apply.

The Understanding the True Cost of College Act would create a universal financial aid award letter so that students could easily compare financial aid packages between schools. It would clarify what financial aid families would receive from a school and create standard terms for the aid offered so that students could accurately compare offers from different schools.

The Know Before You Owe Federal Student Loan Act would increase the amount of information students receive about federal student loans, including their potential ability to repay, before rather than after signing up for tens of thousands of dollars in debt to Uncle Sam.

Additionally, Grassley and fellow legislators have worked with federal agencies to clarify that nonprofit lenders, including state-run or state-chartered organizations, can use tax-exempt bonds for student loan refinancing. Along with 14 fellow senators, Grassley urged the IRS and Treasury Department to make technical clarifications to rules on refinancing options for student debt.

Grassley also offered a resolution designating March 3, 2017 as "National Speech and Debate Education Day," which passed the Senate by unanimous consent.

Energy: As a champion of renewable fuels and an all-of-the-above American energy policy, Grassley continued his extensive work to enact responsible energy policies in 2017.

Grassley introduced the American Renewable Fuel and Job Creation Act of 2017, legislation that would extend the biodiesel tax credit, a clean-fuel incentive, for three years and reform the incentive by transferring the credit from the blenders to the producers of biofuels. The switch would ensure that the tax credit incentivizes domestic production and taxpayers aren’t subsidizing imported fuel.

Much of Grassley’s 2017 energy agenda focused on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Grassley worked extensively with Senate colleagues, President Trump and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to find ways forward on renewable energies and fulfill congressional intent on the RFS.

Under new proposed rules, America’s commitment to biofuels would have been decreased, resulting in less renewable fuels being blended. In a letter earlier this year, Grassley and a bipartisan group of 23 senators urged President Trump to maintain the point of obligation under the RFS and reject changes that would upend the current successful system. In November, EPA announced it would maintain the point of obligation.

Grassley also sent a letter to EPA Administrator Pruitt asking him to support a strong RFS as the agency worked toward finalizing its rule on biofuels volume requirements for 2018 under the RFS. The letter urged the continued implementation of the RFS as intended by Congress and the release of a strong final rule that would give consumers more choices at the pump, strengthen the economy and make the country more secure.

Grassley continued to put pressure on the EPA by joining Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and a bipartisan group of 29 senators in a letter urging the agency to increase its proposed 2019 Renewable Volume Obligations (RVOs) for biodiesel. The move would encourage growth in the industry and diversity in the nation’s energy supply.

Grassley joined a letter led by Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) to Pruitt asking him to examine a burdensome regulation that makes it more difficult to sell gasoline with ethanol content above 10 percent, such as E15, year-round. Grassley raised the issue to Pruitt’s attention when hosting a meeting with him and several senators from ethanol-producing states in January.

Grassley raised concerns to Energy Secretary Rick Perry regarding a study he directed that appeared geared toward undermining the wind energy industry. The study was meant to explore issues central to protecting the long-term reliability of the electricity grid, including an investigation of “market-distorting” federal policies that “create acute and chronic problems for maintaining adequate baseload generation and have impacted reliable generators of all types.” Grassley asked a series of questions about the study, including which organizations that analyze grid reliability and security would be involved, whether a contractor would conduct it, the cost to taxpayers and whether stakeholders would be able to comment on a draft.

Grassley and other Midwestern senators received several assurances in a letter from Pruitt ensuring that the EPA would not follow through on a proposal that would have undermined the integrity of the RFS. The letter from Pruitt can be found here. This came after Grassley led several letters and meetings on the issue. 

Grassley led a bipartisan group of senators urging U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to work with the Brazilian government to end a recently reinstated 20 percent tariff on ethanol imports in excess of 600 million liters (158 million gallons) annually. The United States is the primary exporter of ethanol into Brazil. U.S. producers called Brazil’s tariff plan “a trade barrier that threatens over $750 million in U.S. exports and American jobs.”

Federal Judiciary: Grassley presided over a historic year of federal judicial nominations and confirmations. Beginning with the nomination of Neil M. Gorsuch to be Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, Grassley rigorously vetted and reviewed judicial nominations to ensure our federal judges will read the law as written, not legislate from the bench based on policy preferences. President Trump has endeavored to nominate strict constructionist and constitutionalist judges that understand the role of the judiciary. Under Grassley’s leadership, the committee oversaw the nomination and confirmation of a record 12 appeals court judges in 2017, more than in any first of a presidency since the inception of federal appeals courts in 1891. These confirmations will have an important impact on our country not just for the rest of this Congress or presidency, but for decades to come.

Foster youth, adoption, missing children, families and elder care: Throughout his career, Grassley has been a staunch advocate for children and families. He continued his work on these issues in 2017 by introducing a number of bills aimed at protecting special needs children, preventing elder abuse, encouraging elder independence and funding programs to improve family health.

Grassley introduced the Strong Families Act of 2017, legislation which would re-authorize the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program, a program that provides grants to states, territories and tribal entities to develop and implement evidence-based, voluntary programs to improve maternal and child health, prevent child abuse and promote child development and school readiness.

In honor of two boys with autism who perished after wandering from safety, Grassley reintroduced Kevin and Avonte's Law. The legislation would help families locate missing loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease, autism and related conditions. It would also support training for caregivers to prevent and respond to instances of wandering. This bipartisan bill unanimously passed in the Senate.

Grassley introduced the ACE Kids Act of 2017, legislation that would improve the Medicaid program by more efficiently coordinating care for children with complex medical conditions within the system, ensuring positive outcomes while reducing costs.

A strong advocate for fostering and adoption programs, Grassley introduced the Foster Youth Independence Act of 2017, which would amend a part of the Social Security Act to allow the chief executive officer of a state to certify that the state will provide assistance and services under the John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Program to young adults who have aged out of foster care but are under the age of 23.

Grassley also introduced the Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Act of 2017, legislation which would grant priority preference for federal housing assistance to foster youth who are aging out of care and allow youth in foster care to apply for housing assistance at the age of 16, prior to aging out.

Focusing on the health and well-being of America’s senior citizens, Grassley introduced the Community-based Independence for Seniors Act, legislation that would allow older Americans to receive individualized care that would help them continue to stay in their own homes rather than nursing homes.

Grassley also introduced the Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act, which became law in October. The law enhances enforcement against perpetrators of crimes targeting senior citizens. Specifically, it increases training for federal investigators and prosecutors and calls for the designation of at least one prosecutor in each federal judicial district who will be tasked with handling cases of elder abuse. It also ensures that the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection and the DOJ will both have an elder justice coordinator and increases penalties for perpetrators.

Grassley sought information from a Florida assisted living facility about criminal charges filed against an employee alleging she violated the privacy of two residents using Snapchat. The case is ONE OF the latest examples of exploitive videos or photos involving elder care facilities on Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook.

Along with Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Grassley sent a letter to the DOJ asking for an explanation regarding penalties against an Iowa nursing home that was ordered closed and to pay $100,000 to federal taxpayers over “grossly substandard care” that was essentially “without value.” Grassley and Ernst said the Abbey of Le Mars was on a federal watch list for two years during the Obama Administration because of concerns about care.

Grassley also offered a resolution recognizing National Foster Care Month as an opportunity to raise awareness about the challenges of children in the foster-care system, and encourage Congress to implement policies to improve the lives of children in the foster-care system. It passed the Senate with unanimous consent.

Fraud fighting: Grassley joined Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) in introducing the bipartisan Saving Federal Dollars Through Better Use of Government Purchase and Travel Cards Act, legislation that was included in the recently passed NDAA legislation and signed into law by President Trump. The legislation will help prevent charge card misuse and abuse by requiring agencies to take a series of steps to strengthen accountability and oversight over purchases made using federal government charge cards.

Good Government/Transparency: Grassley introduced the American Red Cross Transparency Act of 2017, bipartisan, bicameral legislation that would give the congressional watchdog arm complete access to American Red Cross records for oversight purposes as well as respond to concerns that the Red Cross tried to quash a review by the GAO of its practices, successfully limiting the scope of the review.

Grassley sent many oversight letters in support of whistleblowers and increased transparency in government. Grassley led a bipartisan group of 11 senators on the Whistleblower Protection Caucus in a letter to 19 federal agencies calling on government leaders to promote a culture that welcomes whistleblower disclosures and condemns attacks on whistleblower rights. Grassley also sent a letter to Acting Chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) Christopher Giancarlo, requesting a formal briefing of CFTC’s efforts to address the systemic weaknesses of internal data security policies and procedures, as well as efforts to eliminate whistleblower reprisal.

In his continuing effort to “drain the swamp,” Grassley excoriated the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) in its attempt to insulate unelected government bureaucrats from questions by the people’s elected representatives in Congress and called on President Trump to rescind the OLC opinion. In his letter, Grassley laid out the constitutional case for every member of Congress to exercise their powers of inquiry and oversight of the executive bureaucracy, regardless of committee membership or chairmanship. He emphasized the importance of oversight and inquiry regardless of partisan affiliation.

Grassley urged the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Mick Mulvaney to ensure that any executive branch ethics pledge waivers granted by the Trump Administration are immediately provided to the U.S. Office of Government Ethics (OGE) and made publicly available. Grassley made a similar request of the Obama Administration in 2009. Those waivers were ultimately published on OGE’s website following Grassley’s request.

Grassley also sent letters to the Department of Health and Human Services, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross regarding issues relating to wasteful government spending by bureaucrats and government efficiency and accountability.

Grassley introduced the Sunshine for Regulatory Decrees and Settlements Act of 2017, legislation which would end the practice of creating new federal red tape outside of the public rulemaking process, shine a light on sue-and-settle litigation and restore the transparency, public scrutiny and judicial review protections of the rulemaking process.

Grassley also introduced the bipartisan Cameras in the Courtroom Act of 2017, legislation which would require the Supreme Court to permit television coverage of all open sessions of the Court, unless the Court decides, by a majority vote of the Justices, that doing so would constitute a violation of the due process rights of one or more of the parties before the Court.

Grassley offered two resolutions pertaining to documents about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, which were being held by the National Archives and Records Administration. The first urged the National Archives and Records Administration to publicly release records detailing the assassination, the second commending the National Archives and Records Administration and its staff for working to comply with the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992 and release all records related to the assassination.

Grassley also offered a resolution designating the week beginning October 15, 2017, as "National Character Counts Week," which passed the Senate with unanimous consent.

Health care: Grassley introduced the Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act, which became law as part of the FDA Reauthorization Act. The bicameral measure requires the FDA to write regulations ensuring that the new category of over-the-counter hearing aids meets the same high standards for safety, consumer labeling and manufacturing protections as all medical devices, providing consumers the option of an FDA-regulated device at lower cost.

Along with Sens. Bob Casey (D-Penn.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Grassley reintroduced the Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act, bipartisan legislation which would encourage pharmacists to serve older Americans in communities lacking easy access to doctors or where pharmacists are more convenient to visit for certain services than doctors.

Grassley also reintroduced the Provider Payment Sunshine Act, legislation that would require drug companies and medical device makers to publicly disclose their payments to nurse practitioners and physician assistants for promotional talks, consulting and other interactions. The disclosures already apply to doctors, dentists, chiropractors, optometrists and podiatrists under the Physician Payment Sunshine Act, co-authored by Grassley and enacted in 2010.

Along with Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Grassley introduced the Reducing Drug Waste Act of 2017, bipartisan legislation which would require the FDA to coordinate with CMS to develop a joint action plan to reduce waste generated by single use drug vials and better manage costs with respect to drug vial sizes and other drug delivery systems, such as eye-drops.

In his continued support for rural health care, Grassley introduced the Rural Hospital Access Act of 2017, which would permanently extend key Medicare rural hospital programs critical to five Iowa hospitals and many others around the country. He also reintroduced the Rural Emergency Acute Care Hospital (REACH) Act, which would help rural hospitals stay open while meeting the needs of rural residents for emergency room care and outpatient services.

Grassley, along with Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), reintroduced the Medicare Orthotics and Prosthetics Improvement Act, bipartisan legislation that would apply accreditation and other standards for orthotics and prosthetics, such as prosthetic limbs, under Medicare, helping to guarantee access to quality products for beneficiaries.

Housing: Grassley continued his oversight of TARP’s Hardest Hit Fund (HHF), a $9.6 billion program that began in 2010 to help homeowners who suffered during the housing crisis. Wasteful spending of these funds by state agencies persisted unchecked for many years of the Obama Administration, and the need for accountability remains. In a continuation of Grassley’s request to audit state agency expenses, the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP) is reviewing state agency spending on travel, conferences and other administrative spending. Grassley also pressed the Treasury Department on why it has recovered only one percent –  $113,592 of $11 million – wasted on restaurant meals, employee gifts and a $500-per-month company Mercedes from the HHF.

Grassley asked the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority and newly-confirmed Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson to explain potentially excessive travel and conference expenses by the housing authority, including that the executive director reportedly has spent 158 days over four years attending conferences. Grassley also called on the HUD Office of the Inspector General (OIG) to complete its investigation into the mismanagement at the Alexander County Housing Authority (ACHA) in Cairo, Illinois, and make its findings public.

Grassley met with Secretary Carson prior to his confirmation, at which time he raised concerns about millions of dollars of wasteful spending at HUD. In an effort to assist public housing authorities (PHAs), the federal government allows PHAs to establish nonprofit affiliates through which development activities are conducted. However, PHAs throughout the country often use taxpayer dollars to fund personal priorities and feather their own nests rather than to provide safe, affordable housing for those in need.

Grassley wrote to Secretary Carson concerning the agency’s two failed projects to update its financial management system. HUD spent 14 years and more than $131 million only to pull the plug on both projects prior to completion.

Illegal and illicit drugs: Along with Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Grassley re-introduced the Protecting Kids from Candy-Flavored Drugs Act, legislation that would increase the criminal penalties for marketing candy-flavored drugs to appeal to children. It would provide an enhanced penalty when a person manufactures, creates, distributes, dispenses or possesses with intent to distribute a controlled substance combined with a beverage or candy product, marketed or packaged to appear similar to a beverage or candy product, or modified by flavoring or coloring to appear similar to a candy or beverage product.

Grassley and Feinstein also introduced the Stop the Importation and Trafficking of Synthetic Analogues (SITSA) Act of 2017, which would allow substances that are substantially similar to controlled drugs to be rapidly regulated without additional time-consuming testing and analysis. Grassley also led a group of senators in a call for the Trump Administration to prioritize the Office of National Drug Control Policy in the Fiscal Year 2018 budget. The letter cited the previous success of the office in preventing use of illicit drugs in American communities. This important effort has only increased in light of the ongoing opioid epidemic across the country.

As part of that ongoing effort to fight opioid abuse, Grassley joined a bipartisan group of legislators in a letter U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions asking him to provide Congress with information detailing how the DOJ is supporting and prioritizing forensic science service providers across the nation as part of a broader approach to combat the opioid epidemic.

Along with Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Grassley urged the Office of National Drug Control Policy to include an evaluation of drug take back programs in the final report of the President’s Commission on Combatting Opioid Abuse, correcting a shortcoming in the interim report. At Grassley and Ernst’s request, the GAO is studying the DEA’s implementation of the law allowing local pharmacies to accept unused controlled substances for public convenience, amid concerns that regulations present barriers to participation.

Immigration and Visas: Grassley introduced the Security, Enforcement, and Compassion United in Reform Efforts, (SECURE) Act, legislation which would protect and provide certainty to DACA recipients, and improve the lawful immigration system by targeting illegal immigration and criminal aliens. The bill contains provisions from several immigration proposals, including Senator Dick Durbin’s (D-Ill.) bipartisan BRIDGE Act, which would protect DACA recipients from deportation. It’s also a significant step forward on the path to immigration reform.

Grassley reintroduced the Taking Action Against Drunk Drivers Act, legislation that would require federal immigration authorities to take action against undocumented immigrants arrested for driving under the influence. Grassley first introduced the bill last year following several tragedies involving immigrants who were arrested for drunk driving, including one incident that claimed the life of 21-year-old Iowan Sarah Root.

Grassley wrote oversight letters to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, acting director of Homeland Security Elaine Duke, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, then-Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, the Department of Labor and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on a wide range of issues related to visas and immigration. Several letters focused on obtaining information regarding the Diversity Visa program, the process by which DHS reviews the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation, and the O visa program. Grassley also raised questions about the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) and H-2B foreign worker and EB-5 investor visa programs.

Law enforcement: In honor of the service and sacrifice made by the men and women in law enforcement, Grassley introduced a resolution designating the week of May 15 through May 21, 2017, as "National Police Week," which passed the Senate with unanimous consent.

The Public Safety Officers’ Benefits Improvement Act, which became law in June, helps families of fallen first responders receive the survivor benefits they’d been promised. Congress established the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits Program in 1976 to provide death benefits to survivors of officers who die in the line of duty. Grassley’s oversight revealed, however, that many of these survivors were waiting years to receive their benefits. His legislation will reduce this wait time and provide greater accountability in the process.

Thousands of U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) officers tasked with hunting down dangerous fugitives are relying on expired protective and trauma gear and insufficient training, according to information obtained by the Senate Judiciary Committee. Despite repeated warnings about the increased risks to employees and public statements prioritizing safety, agency leadership has reportedly failed to follow through with critical steps to ensure officers are appropriately trained and equipped to carry out often-dangerous duties. In two separate letters to USMS leadership, Grassley called on the agency to explain how the lapses were allowed to occur.

National Security: Along with House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), Grassley urged the Trump Administration to put American victims of terrorism first by securing a binding commitment from Sudan to compensate for its historical support of international terrorism that has killed and injured Americans serving abroad. In a joint letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the chairmen called on the Administration, as a condition of lifting any terrorism-related sanctions, to accept nothing less than a binding commitment from the government of Sudan to resolve or settle the terrorism judgments entered against it in U.S. courts and meet its obligations to compensate American victims.

Taxes: As a senior member and former chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over tax policy, Grassley was instrumental in the crafting and passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which was signed into law by President Trump. Two Grassley-led amendments were included in the bill’s final passage.

The first amendment regards increasing the time period in which taxpayers may seek to have proceeds from the sale of wrongfully levied property returned to them. The IRS is authorized to levy on property to satisfy a tax debt in certain instances. While the IRS is authorized to return property at any time, it is only authorized to return the monetary proceeds from a sale for up to nine months from the date of the levy. Similarly, if a third party believes the property levied or seized belongs to him/her and not the person against whom the tax is assessed, the third party generally only has nine months from the time of the levy to bring an administrative wrongful-levy action to seek the return of monetary proceeds. In many cases the nine-month period is insufficient for individuals and third parties to discover a wrongful or mistaken levy and seek to remedy it. This amendment extends from nine months to two years the time period that individuals and third parties have to seek the return of proceeds on the sale of wrongfully levied property.

The second amendment included in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 expands provisions relating to the nondeductibility of fines and penalties to prohibit a tax deduction for any amount paid or incurred to, or at the direction of, any governmental entity relating to the violation of any law or the investigation or inquiry into a potential violation of law. It exempts from such prohibition: (1) restitution or amounts paid to come into compliance with any law that was violated or otherwise involved in the investigation or inquiry, (2) amounts paid pursuant to a court order in a suit in which the governmental entity was not a party, and (3) amounts paid or incurred as taxes due.

Grassley also reintroduced the Taxpayer Bill of Rights Enhancement Act of 2017, comprehensive legislation which would improve customer service at the IRS, create new taxpayer protections and update and strengthen existing taxpayer protections.

Trade: With Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Grassley introduced the United States Foreign Investment Review Act, which would to review foreign investments in the United States to ensure they are in the long-term economic interests of the U.S.

Grassley joined a bipartisan group of 37 senators urging USDA to push the Chinese government to end its ban on the sale of American poultry products. The ban was instituted by China in 2015 due to the detection of a wild duck with Highly Pathogenic Avian Influence (HPAI) and continues to be enforced today, in contradiction of World Health Organization for Animal Health (OIE) standards.

Victims’ reform: Grassley introduced and the Senate unanimously passed, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2017. The bipartisan legislation would renew existing programs that make federal resources available to human trafficking survivors and establish new prevention, prosecution and collaboration initiatives to help bring the perpetrators to justice.

Grassley led 22 Senate colleagues in calling on the U.S. Supreme Court to review a federal appeals court decision undermining the ability of U.S. victims of international terrorism to seek justice. The appeals court’s decision effectively nullified the Antiterrorism Act of 1992, a law passed by Congress—and championed by Grassley—specifically to protect Americans abroad and to provide victims with a tool to bring terrorists to justice in U.S. courts.

Grassley offered two resolutions in support of victims’ reform. The first was a resolution supporting the mission and goals of National Crime Victims' Rights Week in 2017, which includes increasing public awareness of the rights, needs, and concerns of, and services available to assist, victims and survivors of crime in the United States. The second was a resolution supporting the goals and ideals of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, commending domestic violence victim advocates, domestic violence victim service providers, crisis hotline staff, and first responders serving victims of domestic violence for their compassionate support of survivors of domestic violence, and expressing the sense of the Senate that Congress should continue to support efforts to end domestic violence, provide safety for victims of domestic violence and their families, and hold perpetrators of domestic violence accountable. Both resolutions passed the Senate by unanimous consent.

Whistleblowers: Grassley, along with Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), introduced the Whistleblower Protection Coordination Act. The legislation would permanently extend the program requiring a dedicated official in each inspector general office focused on whistleblower protection issues.

Grassley sent several oversight letters to the DOJ and the DEA requesting information on issues such as why it took the DOJ’s inspector general’s office nearly five years to complete an investigation into the Osorio and Barba trafficking rings. He pressed for answers regarding unaccountability in addressing sexual misconduct and harassment in the DOJ, and inquired about what steps the agency has taken to address the problem. With McCaskill, Grassley also pressed the Missouri National Guard for answers on what it will do to address findings that one of its contractors retaliated against contractor employee Michael Sandknop after he made disclosures that were protected under whistleblower statutes.

Grassley, along with Wyden, introduced the bipartisan IRS Whistleblower Improvements Act of 2017, legislation that would improve IRS communication with tax fraud whistleblowers and protect those whistleblowers from workplace retaliation. The bill is based on the Grassley-Wyden amendment included in the Taxpayer Protection Act of 2016. The Taxpayer Protection Act, along with the Grassley-Wyden amendment, passed the Finance Committee in April 2016 but was never considered by the full Senate.

In honor of the critical service whistleblowers provide for good governance and our nation, Grassley introduced a resolution designating July 30, 2017, as "National Whistleblower Appreciation Day," which passed the Senate with unanimous consent.


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