Knoxville — Sen. Chuck Grassley told the Journal-Express this morning that the US Senate is not likely to get much more done in 2012, but it must approve the "Farm Bill" and Defense Authorization Act.
The Senate is scheduled to reconvene Sept. 10, a week later than usual due to the Democratic Convention. Grassley says the Senate will adjourn around the first week of October to allow members time to campaign. Even when the Senate will be in session, Grassley expects there to be 12-15 days of meetings.
In the brief time the Senate will be together, Grassley stressed the importance of taking action to fund the government, pass a farm bill to allow those in the business to plan ahead and to renew the Defense Authorization Act to keep the military going. That bill expires Sept. 30, and action must be taken in September on the farm bill as well. Action to fund the government can be done through January or later.
"I want to fund it until at least March," Grassley said.
Grassley was asked if work to pay down the debt could be done after the election. He believes it can, and that a good starting point would be the Simpson-Bowles recommendations. The Simpson-Bowles Report came from a commission appointed by President Obama to find ways to reduce the debt. Obama did not support his own commission's recommendations.
"The President isn't doing anything to get out of holes now," Grassley said. With a debt approaching $16 trillion, $5 trillion of which has been accrued during the Obama Administration, Grassley said that any action to reduce the debt will take time.
Concern was raised last week regarding the Senate's decision to allow presidential appointments, of some lower-level administration members, to bypass Senate confirmation. Grassley said there are usually 2,500 presidential appointments under a president. If a single Senator has an issue with one of these appointees, he or she can stall the entire process.
Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee proposed the action to allow some appointments to bypass the Senate to expedite the process.
"It's not a policy-making position," Grassley said of those who can bypass the Senate. "Everybody kind of agrees."
Grassley believes this action does not affect the checks and balances system that America is built upon. In his words, this can be interpreted, "only if you want to stretch it to the extreme."
Grassley has been back in the state, hosting town hall meetings. Issues raised at these have been consistent with past tours, including health care, the deficit, the farm bill and trade issues.
Presumptive Republican Presidential Nominee Mitt Romney is close to selecting a running mate. Grassley said that any of the names he has heard thus far would be qualified to serve as Vice President. The Senators mentioned he knows well, and believes any of them would be a good choice.
Earlier this week, Gen. David Petreaus' name was mentioned as a possible running mate. Grassley believes he is a good general, but not sure if he would make a good President.
"I don't want to say he's not qualified, but I only know him as a military person," Grassley said.