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D.C. Dispatch: Grassley, Senate Judiciary Committee wrap up Supreme Court nominee hearings

Sen. Chuck Grassley
Posted at 1:13 PM, Mar 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-26 14:13:50-04

The biggest news in D.C. this week was the Senate hearing for Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson — an event where Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley had a starring role as the leading Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Iowa’s delegation in D.C. also continued to push for additional aid to Ukraine and introduced bills on homelessness and mental health.

Senate concludes hearings on Supreme Court nominee

Senators questioned Supreme Court nominee Kentaji Brown Jackson over the course of several days this week. 

Sen. Chuck Grassley is the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee and was the first to question Jackson, focusing his 30 minutes of questioning on free speech and the presence of cameras in the Supreme Court chamber.

Grassley began the proceedings by telling Jackson that his wife, Barbara, enjoyed the nominee’s opening statement.

“I got home last night about 8 o’clock. The first thing I heard was my wife’s opinion that you did very good on your opening statement,” Grassley said. “She didn’t have anything to say about my statement.”

Grassley told the Des Moines Register that Jackson was “very smart in her answers,” although he said she side-stepped some questions.

Some Republicans on the panel were critical of Jackson, questioning her record in sentencing people convicted for child pornography and her experience defending terrorism suspects. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz probed Jackson on “critical race theory,” asking if she agreed with an anti-racist children’s book taught at a school where Jackson sits on the board.

At the conclusion of the occasionally tense hearings, Sen. Dick Durbin, the chair of the Judiciary Committee, thanked Grassley for his “high degree of integrity” through the process.

Ernst visits Poland, Germany to discuss war in Ukraine

Ernst and a bipartisan group of Senators traveled to Germany and Poland over the weekend to meet with NATO officials and learn more about the war in Ukraine. The group visited a center for Ukrainian refugees on the border with Poland and met with a group of Ukrainian women who called for additional aid in the fight against Russia.

“This strong, bipartisan delegation traveled together to demonstrate America’s unwavering support for the freedom-loving people of Ukraine and affirm the strength of the world’s most powerful alliance,” Ernst said in a statement. “We departed with the conviction that the United States, Ukraine, and the free world have the will and the means to unite and stand up to Vladimir Putin’s tyranny and that Ukraine can win this fight.”

After returning to the U.S., Ernst backed a bill to make it easier for America to provide military aid in the form of weapons for Ukraine

More on Ukraine….

  • Rep. Randy Feenstra introduced a bill to expand the production of biofuels to replace Russian oil. It’s the companion to a Senate bill introduced by Ernst. Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks and Rep. Ashley Hinson are cosponsors.
  • Rep. Cindy Axne voted for several bills in committee to impose financial sanctions on Belarus and Russia, and to provide financial aid for Ukraine.

Senate Republicans counter ‘Build Back Better’ with child care block grant proposal

While many parts of President Joe Biden’s sweeping Build Back Better proposal remain stalled, Senate Republicans this week released their own plan to improve access to child care. The Child Care and Development Block Grant Reauthorization Act would provide assistance to low-income families and remove some regulations for rural child care providers.

“Instead of completely rewriting the playbook and adding new top-down entitlement programs, our legislation will expand eligibility for CCDBG while keeping costs low for hardworking families,” Grassley said in a statement.

Only Republicans have signed onto the proposal so far, making its passage through the Democrat-controlled Senate unlikely.

Senate passes Grassley-led bill to study marijuana

The Senate passed a Grassley-led bill Thursday to conduct more research on marijuana and cannabidiol. 

“It will empower the FDA to analyze CBD and medical marijuana products in a safe and responsible way so that the American public can decide whether to utilize them in the future based on sound scientific data,” Grassley said in a statement.

Ernst was a cosponsor of the legislation and voted to pass it.

Grassley introduces bill on missing foster kids

Grassley joined a bipartisan group of senators to introduce a bill that would improve communications between states and the Administration of Children and Families. The goal of the legislation is to better track foster youth.

“The number of missing foster youth is deeply disturbing,” Grassley said. “We have a responsibility to ensure children in our foster care system are kept safe.”

Axne introduces bill on rural homelessness

Axne introduced a bipartisan bill to allow the Continuum of Care program to allocate money more broadly.

“My new legislation will give more flexibility in how homelessness funding can be used by communities in rural Iowa to make sure everyone has a roof over their heads,” Axne said in a news release.

Miller-Meeks proposes childhood mental health funding

Miller-Meeks and Washington Rep. Kim Schrier, a Democrat, introduced a bill to fund two mental health programs for children: one that provides pediatricians with resources to identify mental health issues, and another to give early intervention to children who have been through trauma.

Miller-Meeks said the closure of schools during the COVID-19 pandemic had a “serious negative impact” on students.

“As a physician, I know that care for mental health is important for every American, especially for those who are still developing,” she said.

Iowa Capital Dispatch is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Iowa Capital Dispatch maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Kathie Obradovich for questions: info@iowacapitaldispatch.com. Follow Iowa Capital Dispatch on Facebook and Twitter.

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