Grassley, Senators Celebrate Home Visiting Program Reauthorization with Actress Jennifer Garner

WASHINGTON – Sen. Chuck Grassley, a senior member and former chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, today met with actress Jennifer Garner, along with other members of the Senate Finance Committee, to celebrate the recent reauthorization of the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV), which was included in the government funding bill last month. The program 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.

Grassley and a bipartisan group of his colleagues introduced the legislation to reauthorize the program last year. At the time, Grassley said, “The program that serves so many mothers and children has enjoyed bipartisan support because it embraces a commonsense idea. It provides states with the resources to design programs that work best for their communities to support children and families. It gives parents access to professional expertise to help them improve their skills. When kids do well early in life, they’re on a good path to become successful adults.”

“Thanks to the leadership of Senators Hatch, Wyden, Grassley and Menendez, thousands of families across the country will receive critical support services through the Maternal, Infant, Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program,” said Garner, a trustee of Save the Children, an organization that advocates for kids’ rights and education. “Through my work with Save the Children, I’ve seen how home visiting programs make a huge difference in the lives of many families across the country. By helping mothers and fathers be the best parents they can be, we can put more children on a path toward success.”


Grassley, Feinstein, Cruz, Menendez Promote International Parental Child Abduction Awareness Month                                                                                                                     

WASHINGTON – Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) yesterday introduced a bipartisan resolution designating April as ”International Parental Child Abduction Month.”

“It is difficult to imagine the distress and heartbreak a parent must feel after losing a child in a parental abduction. This heartbreak can be made even worse when the child is abducted and taken abroad, leaving the American parent little or no recourse to reunite with their family. We take this step to recognize that pain, honor those who work to prevent such tragedies and raise awareness about the prevalence of this problem,” Grassley said. “Our country has played an important part in reducing the number of parental abductions, but we can and should do more to combat international parental abduction. Raising this critical awareness is an important first step.”

“It’s hard to imagine a more devastating situation for parents than their children being abducted and taken to a foreign country. Unfortunately, this happens more frequently than one would expect and it’s incredibly difficult for parents to get their children back. International parental abduction continues to affect California families more than any other state. In 2016 alone, 198 California families reported abductions by a parent.  Our resolution raises awareness of this important issue,” Feinstein said.

“Far too many American children and children across the world experience abuse in the form of international parental abduction,” Cruz said. “I am proud to join my colleagues in support of this resolution, and hope to see more countries and legal professionals work together to end this abuse and reunite abducted children with their rightful, legal families.”

“As a parent and grandparent, I can only imagine the emotional toll of having a child abducted and taken abroad, and being helpless to get them back,” said Menendez. “That is why I am proud to join my colleagues in introducing this bipartisan Resolution to continue our efforts to raise awareness and prevent safe havens in the world for those who abduct children. The International Parental Child Abduction Month should serve as a reminder for our government to find ways to better assist parents in bringing abducted children home where they legally and rightfully belong.”

Thousands of American children have been abducted by a parent and taken abroad, separating those children from their custodial parents in the United States. This can have devastating and lasting effects on both the child and the separated parent. Although various programs have reduced the number of international abductions by 25 percent in the last two years, the United States can continue to play a leading role in further reducing abductions through raising awareness and public education.

Text of the resolution can be found here.


Chairman Grassley Announces Judiciary Committee Hearing on FOIA

  • A video of the hearing will be available here once the hearing begins.

Chairman Grassley Announces Parkland Shooting Hearing Video

  • A video of the hearing will be available here once the hearing begins.

Farmers, Biofuels Workers Rally Across Iowa to Protect RFS

WASHINGTON – Sen. Chuck Grassley said the farmers and biofuels workers rallying across Iowa to speak out against a proposed RIN price cap or waiver under the RFS (Renewable Fuel Standard) are sending an important message to Washington on behalf of farm income and jobs in rural America.

On March 9, farmers and biofuels workers rallied at Western Dubuque Biodiesel in Farley, Southwest Iowa Renewable Energy in Council Bluffs, Iowa Central Community College in Fort Dodge, Golden Grain Energy in Mason City and the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association Office in Johnston. Wallaces Farmer: “To President Trump: Stand Strong On Your Pledge To Support The Renewable Fuel Standard And Reject Proposals To Bail Out Oil Refiners At The Expense Of Farmers”

“Farmers, biofuel producers and other concerned citizens rallied on Saturday in Iowa to send a message to President Trump: Stand strong on your pledge to support the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), and reject proposals to bail out oil refiners at the expense of farmers.”

“With low commodity prices, farmers are facing a fourth straight year of income decline. Land values continue to drop and farm debt is rising. A study released last week by Iowa State University economists shows the Cruz oil refinery bailout plan would decrease corn prices by another 25 cents per bushel. It would decrease soybean prices by 16 cents.”

AgWired: “Fuel Retailers Join Chorus Against RIN Price Cap”

“The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) gathered together three fuel retailers who market higher ethanol blends to talk about why a cap on the price of Renewable Identification Numbers (RINS) would be detrimental to their businesses.”

“Putting A Cap On Prices For Renewable Identification Numbers (RINS) Would Not Be The ‘Win-Win’ That Senator Ted Cruz Of Texas Has Repeatedly Said He Wants”

“Iowa Renewable Fuels Association Executive Director Monte Shaw and Iowa Biodiesel Board Executive Director Grant Kimberley held a joint press conference Friday to discuss an oil industry study make public by Reuters that shows putting a cap on prices for Renewable Identification Numbers (RINS) would not be the “win-win” that Senator Ted Cruz of Texas has repeatedly said he wants for the both the oil and biofuels industries.”

“Ethanol Interests Shout Opposition to RIN Price Cap”

“As concerns began to grow late last week that the Trump Administration was leaning toward a cap on prices for Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) to appease oil refinery interests, biofuel interests went into high gear to get the word out about how that action would devastate the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).”

Fort Dodge Messenger: “Farmers And Agriculture Leaders From Webster County…Discuss A Texas Senator’s Plan To Alter The Renewable Fuels Standard, Which They Say Would Cripple The State’s Ethanol Industry”

“Farmers and agriculture leaders from Webster County met with the state’s new agriculture secretary Friday afternoon to discuss a Texas senator’s plan to alter the Renewable Fuels Standard, which they say would cripple the state’s ethanol industry

“‘Their opposition is to put this cap on the price of the RIN, which means that if RINs are artificially held at a low price, then blenders will just buy RINs instead of buying ethanol,’ Horan said. ‘Well, if that happens, then the ethanol demand will go down dramatically, and ethanol companies will slow down production of ethanol because they’re not selling it.’”

“‘If RFS goes away, you don’t have to study economics to know what that does to our rural communities and our economy,’ Naig said. ‘It’s a critically important piece here.’”

Ames Tribune: “Biofuels Supporters Rally At Nevada Farm: ‘This Might Be The Most Critical Issue That’s Affected Farmers In A Long Time’”

“He told the approximately 170 people who attended the rally that this might be the most critical issue that’s affected farmers in a long time.”

“Howell said farmers and politicians cannot afford to ignore what he described as the deepest reduction in farm income since the Great Depression. He expressed his concern about what he said is a ‘false narrative’ by Cruz in Washington, D.C., which could break the President’s commitment to Iowa’s renewable fuels industry. ‘We’re calling on President Trump to keep his promise,’ Howell said.”

Brownfield Ag News: “Farmers And Ethanol Plant Employees Speak Up For RFS”

“Attempts by oil refiners to modify the Renewable Fuel Standard have prompted an outcry from farmers and ethanol plant employees who support the biofuels mandate.”

“‘We have about 65 employees here and then when you look at all the rest of the industry, we support about 3,000 jobs around the area,’ Schultz said.”

“‘How Can He Honestly Say This Is A Win For Farmers When It Will Cripple The Corn Market’”

“Biofuels supporters have ramped up their efforts to protect the Renewable Fuels Standard from changes being pursued by Texas Senator Ted Cruz and oil refiners.”

“‘Senator Cruz says it’s a win-win,’ Howell said. ‘How can he honestly say this is a win for farmers when it will cripple the corn market and the price of corn will immediately drop 25 cents.’”

KGLO Radio: “Renewable Fuels Advocates Sound Alarm About Possible RFS Waivers”

“The Executive Director of the Iowa Biodiesel Board, Grant Kimberley, says the plan would cut biodiesel production by 300 million gallons…He says soybean farmers would see a reduction of prices by at least 15 cents a bushel.”

KCRG-TV: “Iowans Worry About The Future Of The Renewable Fuel Standard”

“Some farmers in Iowa have decided they're not going to let any big changes happen quietly...A group of men including farmers, biodiesel workers, and a lawmaker met at the Western Dubuque Biodiesel facility Friday.”

“Farmers Speak Against Changes To RFS”

“Farmers in eastern Iowa gathered to talk about how bad the changes to the Renewable Fuel Standard would be.”


Grassley, Senators Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Strengthen DEA’s Ability to Prevent Opioid Diversion & Abuse

WASHINGTON – In the midst of a prescription opioid, heroin, and fentanyl crisis that is devastating communities of all sizes and in every state, U.S. Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), John Kennedy (R-La.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), all members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today introduced the Opioid Quota Reform Act of 2018. This narrow, bipartisan legislation will enhance the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) existing opioid quota-setting authority by improving transparency and enabling DEA to adjust quotas to prevent opioid diversion and abuse.

DEA is responsible for establishing annual quotas determining the exact amount of each opioid drug that is permitted to be produced in the U.S. every year. DEA approved significant increases in aggregate opioid production quotas between 1993 and 2015, including a 39-fold increase for oxycodone and a 12-fold increase for hydrocodone. Such increases occurred largely because current law directs DEA to only consider certain factors when setting quotas—like past sales and estimated demand—but not other factors such as the impact of such opioid production on diversion, abuse rates, or overdose deaths. As a result, 14 billion opioid doses are put on the market each year—far more than necessary under current medical guidelines and enough for every adult American to have a one month’s prescription of addictive painkillers. 

Recognizing this problem, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has asked DEA to evaluate whether changes are needed to its production quota process to address the disproportionate volume of opioid prescriptions issued each year in the United States. 

“The opioid crisis will only be beat back if we use every tool possible to fight against it. This legislation is one of those tools,” said Grassley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “Improving transparency in setting opioid quotas is critical to curbing opioid abuse while ensuring those who need opioids to treat illnesses and manage pain will still have lawful access to their medicine. As Chairman of Judiciary Committee and the Narcotics Control Caucus, I care deeply about finding a solution to the opioid epidemic, and this legislation is a step in the right direction.”

“Every day, more than 100 Americans die from an opioid overdose. While we know that there are legitimate uses for opioid painkillers, we also know that these dangerous pills are being over-produced, over-prescribed, and over-dispensed,” said Durbin. “DEA plays an important gatekeeper role over the volume of opioids that can be produced each year. And while DEA has taken recent steps to lower opioid quotas, their ability to do so is limited. Opioid quota reform is needed so DEA can take important factors like diversion and abuse into account when setting quotas, rather than chasing the downstream consequences of this crisis. And this bipartisan legislation will allow DEA to do just that.  But our work is not done. These quotas should continue to come down, doctors must be more judicious in their prescribing, drug companies must stop misleading the public about their products, and we simply must do more to help those who are currently addicted get treatment.”

“Drug overdose deaths have nearly tripled since 1999, and the opioid epidemic costs Louisiana alone about $296 million annually. This is unacceptable,” said Kennedy. “If even one of these prescription opioid related overdoses can be prevented by our bill, we are one step closer towards winning the war on drugs.”

“We have a responsibility to better address the opioid epidemic, which took the lives of more than 42,000 Americans in 2016, by stopping addiction before it starts,” said Feinstein. “I believe this bill strikes the right balance in maintaining access to medications for legitimate medical use and reducing the supply of opioids available to be diverted and abused. I am confident that this bill can help reduce the astonishing number of drug overdose deaths in our country, and am pleased to be a cosponsor.”

Over the past two years, the opioid quotas have reduced. However, more work must be done to rein in this epidemic, and DEA needs more statutory tools to effectively do its job.

The bipartisan Durbin-Kennedy Opioid Quota Reform Act of 2018 would:

  • Direct DEA to consider the additional factors of opioid diversion, abuse, overdose deaths, and public health impacts when establishing annual opioid production quotas, in addition to the existing statutory considerations such as prior-year sales and research needs;
  • Require DEA, if it approves any annual increase in opioid quotas, to explain publicly why the public health benefits of the increase outweigh the potential harmful consequences;
  • Reveal trends in manufacturer-level quota increases by having DEA report anonymized data to Congress on the number of manufacturers that DEA authorizes to produce opioids each year and how many of those manufacturers’ quotas have increased from the previous year;
  • Enable DEA to issue more granular quota levels by removing a current provision that blocks DEA from considering variations in dosage forms when setting quotas; and
  • Require DEA to identify strategies to better incorporate data collection and changes in accepted medical practice (such as updated CDC Opioid Prescriber Guidelines) in its quota-setting process.

The Opioid Quota Reform Act of 2018 is supported by the National Association of City and County Health Officials, National Association of Counties, Trust for America’s Health, Safe States Alliance, and National Safety Council.


Prepared Statement by Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Chairman, Senate Committee on the Judiciary

Hearing on “The Freedom of Information Act: Examining the Administration’s Progress on Reforms and Looking Ahead”

March 13, 2018


Today, the Committee focuses its attention on the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). We have a responsibility to ensure that both the letter and spirit of FOIA are being faithfully carried out.

It’s also Sunshine Week—an annual recognition of the importance of government openness and transparency. 

It’s always good to focus on transparency. As I’ve said time and again, transparency brings accountability.

But, I’ve learned over the years that transparency doesn’t come easy. It requires constant oversight and pressure from the public, the press, and Congress. So, we’re here today in the midst of Sunshine Week to do just that. 

FOIA is our nation’s premier transparency law, giving the public a statutory right to access government records. Before FOIA, countless stories of government waste, fraud, and abuse could’ve remained under the rug.  Thanks to FOIA, it’s the right of the People to know what their government is up to.  

But no one can say with a straight face that FOIA always works as intended. Some agencies are still working on requests from 10 to 15 years ago. Keep in mind that FOIA requires a response within 20 days. And anyone who’s made a FOIA request only to receive a page full of redactions, or be charged an absurd processing fee—or to simply get no response at all—knows we have work to do. 

This Committee has a bipartisan history of confronting these challenges and strengthening the public’s ‘right to know.’ Recently, this bipartisan work led to the enactment of the FOIA Improvement Act of 2016. I was proud to work with Senators Cornyn and Leahy on that bill. In fact, when I took over as Chairman in 2015, the FOIA Improvement Act was the first bill that I listed on the Committee agenda.

The FOIA Improvement Act was the result of years of bipartisan work, collaboration with the open government community, and good faith negotiations. But it was no easy task.

We all remember the promises made under President Obama. He touted a new era of government openness. Yet, it was the Obama administration that tried to defeat FOIA reform efforts in Congress. Under President Obama, White House review of politically sensitive FOIA requests became official policy. And more than one of his top officials used personal or alias email accounts to conduct official business, undermining transparency and accountability.

So, when I hear any administration make promises of improved transparency, I take it with a grain of salt.

Some things have changed since this Committee last convened to examine FOIA. A new administration is in place, and with that, the responsibility for ensuring openness and transparency is in new hands. But as you know, I take my oversight job seriously--no matter who's in the White House. And there are things that concern me.

I hear of even more delays at certain agencies, and proposals to raise search fees or limit the number of FOIA requests from organizations. Further, according to a recent GAO audit, most of the agencies surveyed haven’t updated their FOIA regulations as required under the 2016 amendments. And the agencies with the largest request backlogs lack concrete plans on how to reduce their backlogs.

Another GAO report found that FOIA litigation costs cannot be fully determined, which is troubling—particularly in cases when the government shouldn’t have fought the requester in the first place.

Here’s an idea: instead of litigating over a FOIA request, agencies should proactively release that information now for all to see.

So today, I expect to hear what the administration is doing to fix these problems and improve transparency for all.

President Trump should show leadership on this issue. I hope he’s listening today. He promised to “drain the swamp.” There’s no better way to do that than by letting in the sunlight.

And on the issue of sunlight, I was pleased to work closely with Senator Leahy last fall in pushing for the administration’s full release of the JFK assassination records.

I also introduced the Disclosing Foreign Influence Act last year to improve transparency and disclosure of foreign lobbying efforts under the Foreign Agents Registration Act. My bill includes numerous oversight and reporting provisions to improve transparency, all of which were issues I identified in leading this Committee’s oversight work on the Foreign Agents Registration Act.  

Finally, the Committee received a statement for the record from the Cause of Action Institute, which will be included in the record, without objection.

I thank the witnesses for being here, and I look forward to their testimony.


Support the River Cities' Reader

Get 12 Reader issues mailed monthly for $48/year.

Old School Subscription for Your Support

Get the printed Reader edition mailed to you (or anyone you want) first-class for 12 months for $48.
$24 goes to postage and handling, $24 goes to keeping the doors open!

Click this link to Old School Subscribe now.

Help Keep the Reader Alive and Free Since '93!


"We're the River Cities' Reader, and we've kept the Quad Cities' only independently owned newspaper alive and free since 1993.

So please help the Reader keep going with your one-time, monthly, or annual support. With your financial support the Reader can continue providing uncensored, non-scripted, and independent journalism alongside the Quad Cities' area's most comprehensive cultural coverage." - Todd McGreevy, Publisher