by Sen. Chuck Grassley
As Iowa turned the page on a year brimming with hardship,
from a deadly pandemic and economic fallout, to civic unrest, a derecho and
divisive presidential election, the New Year got off on the wrong foot.
Forty-six years ago this month, I swore an oath to the
Constitution as a newly elected representative of Iowa’s 3rd Congressional
District. Those were tumultuous times in our nation’s political history.
President Richard M. Nixon resigned three months before the midterm elections
that would determine representation in the 94th Congress. I was one of the few
Republicans newly elected among the “Watergate babies.” Today, Sen. Patrick
Leahy of Vermont and I are the only lawmakers from the class of 1974 still
In those days, public confidence in government was badly
shaken. It reinforced my approach to representative government: serve with
integrity; hold open, honest dialogue; deliver accountable constituent service;
lead with bipartisanship; and, root out wrongdoing to restore faith in our
institutions of government.
Since 1976, I’ve participated in 11 joint sessions of
Congress to count the Electoral College votes and affirm the duly elected
president of the United States. My 12th opportunity is a date I’ll never
On Jan. 6, 2021, our nation’s most sacred civic space
came under siege, overtaken by a security breach at the U.S. Capitol. When a
violent mob broke into the building, I was presiding in the Senate chamber.
Less than 15 seconds after taking the chair vacated by the vice president, I
was told there was a security concern and I struck the gavel to pause our
proceedings. Before I knew what was happening, Capitol Police agents ushered me
through back hallways and underground tunnels to get to a secure location. The
urgency to whisk me out of harm’s way was because I’m in the presidential line
of succession as president pro tempore of the U.S. Senate. For the next few
hours, I watched in disbelief as images of a disgraceful, violent insurrection
overwhelmed law enforcement, disrupted the people’s business and led to five
Anarchy at the U.S. Capitol sabotages our prized
inheritance of citizenship. It profoundly dishonors those who sacrifice life
and limb to protect our freedoms. Breaking and entering is unlawful, whether
it’s your neighbor’s house or the people’s house. We are a nation of laws. Violence
and vandalism aren’t protected freedoms in America. Recall that just last year
shopkeepers from Portland to Kenosha and Minneapolis were horrified by looting
and arson committed under pretext of racial justice. It’s inconceivable the
heart of our republic was besieged by fellow Americans. Five hours after
anarchists scaled the walls, desecrated public property, terrified young
congressional staffers and put lawmakers and law enforcement officers in grave
danger, Congress would not be intimidated. We returned to work to carry out the
people’s business and complete the Electoral College count.
The Capitol riots and racial justice protests have
delivered a wake-up call to our national conscience. It’s an inflection point
for all Americans to examine the corrosion of civic life and political culture.
Tragically, politics turned into a blood sport on the marble steps and grand
staircases of the U.S. Capitol. Political violence and peaceful assembly are
two very different things. We must preserve the rights of every American to
peaceably assemble, associate and speak without fear of government reprisal.
But violence and destruction of property should never be tolerated and should
be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
As someone who endorsed and campaigned for President
Trump, I share in the disappointment of 74 million Americans who voted for him
and wanted him to succeed. But we can’t ignore the facts. Every state, every
lawsuit and every investigation have delivered the same outcome: Joe Biden will
be America’s next president. It is wrong for anyone in a position of public
trust to mislead the public about the results of the presidential election,
which despite some minor irregularities that we should investigate and address,
produced a conclusive result.
National crisis calls for national unity, and in some
ways for me that means business as usual. I’m focused on helping
President-elect Biden bring our country together, getting us through this
pandemic and on the road to economic recovery. I’m ready to work with
President-elect Biden where we agree on issues that matter to Iowans,
particularly lowering prescription drug costs.
America is an imperfect country. We must keep pushing to
form a more perfect union, as stated in our Constitution’s preamble. Recall the
prescient wisdom of Abraham Lincoln who sought to heal a nation divided at his
first inaugural address. Let’s listen to the “better angels of our nature” and
love our neighbors.
Although the twilight hours of Trump’s presidency have
dimmed his record of achievements, from Operation Warp Speed to historic
economic expansion, America’s promise shines bright.
On Jan. 20, Joe Biden will become the nation’s next
commander-in-chief. I’ll work as hard as ever on behalf of Iowans to ensure
rural America has a seat the table. If the 46th president uses his bully pulpit
to unite Americans and embraces bipartisanship, he can make a difference as the