WASHINGTON – Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) today marked a series of policy and oversight accomplishments of 2020.
“While this past year has been challenging for us all, serving the people of Iowa is my first priority and it’s an honor that I take seriously. As chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and through my extensive oversight efforts, my work focuses on making the government more transparent, efficient and accountable to Iowans and all Americans,” Grassley said.
Grassley holds at least one question-and-answer session in each of Iowa’s 99 counties every year to hear concerns and answer questions on any subject from Iowans. In 2020, Grassley completed his annual county meetings for the 40th 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 hall meetings, hospitals and factory floors. While the COVID-19 pandemic may have made some of Grassley’s meetings look a little different this year, the format remained the same: Iowans set the agenda. Grassley moved forward with his meetings in a safe and responsible way while following public health guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the state of Iowa.
In addition to his annual meetings, Grassley attended or convened a variety of events and forums, including:
In 2020, Grassley continued his annual social media series called #CornWatch and #SoybeanWatch. These give followers an inside look at farming operations and to track the progression of corn and soybean crops grown on the Grassley family farm in New Hartford, Iowa, from planting through harvest.
When the Senate is in session, Grassley sets aside at least 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. While there were limitations this year due to the pandemic, Grassley was able to meet with Iowans virtually. Throughout 2020, Grassley met with more than 800 groups of Iowans and discussed a variety of policy issues such as trade, tax reform, prescription drug pricing as well as the many issues that have arisen during the pandemic. Grassley also joined Iowa schools for Q&As via video conferencing and, as an avid fan of Iowa universities, cheered on dozens of student-athletes at sporting events.
This year, Grassley became the 10th longest-serving U.S. Senator in history and continued his constitutional duty serving as the Senate president pro tempore, a position historically bestowed upon the most senior member of the majority party in the upper chamber of Congress. Upon his swearing in, Grassley became third in the line of presidential succession following the vice president and the speaker of the House of Representatives. An Iowan has not held this position since Senator Albert B. Cummins in 1919. In his capacity as president pro tempore, Grassley aided in the selection process of the new Architect of the Capitol and nominated an Iowan to the U.S. Senate Curatorial Advisory board. He also played a role in many historic events this year including welcoming President Donald Trump into the chamber of the House of Representatives for the 68th annual State of the Union address and signing the United States-Mexico-Canada trade agreement.
Highlights of Grassley’s legislative and oversight work follow here:
This year was particularly tough on the farming industry due to commodity prices taking a hit from the novel coronavirus, drought across West Central Iowa and an intense windstorm known as a derecho that caused widespread damage across central Iowa. However, through it all, farmers continued to plow ahead and support their communities. As the senior senator of one of the top agricultural states in the country and a family farmer, Grassley has been an outspoken advocate for farmers and Rural America.
Throughout the various spending negotiations in Congress, Grassley was a staunch defender of family farms. He led the Iowa Congressional delegation in urging Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to ensure funds for the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) were replenished in the next government funding bill. He exposed Democrats for blocking crucial coronavirus relief, which included billions of dollars in assistance for farmers and agribusiness employees.
When COVID-19 began affecting our meat supply chain, Grassley immediately raised concerns with his colleagues. Grassley has long focused on consolidation in the meatpacking industry and pressed USDA to protect independent producers. In May, Grassley introduced bipartisan legislation that would foster efficient markets and improve competition and transparency among packers that purchase cattle. Grassley first introduced this bill in 2002. The bill will require a minimum of 50 percent of a packer's weekly volume of beef slaughter to come as a result of purchases made on the open or spot market.
While many around the country noticed higher prices at the grocery store due to these market disruptions, many cattle producers across the country could not get a bid on their animals. Grassley was one of the first lawmakers to seek an investigation to bring more transparency to the cattle industry. He called on the Departments of Justice and Agriculture to investigate potential market manipulation and other illegal activity by large meat packing companies in the cattle industry. President Trump echoed this call for an investigation into possible anticompetitive behavior in the beef industry.
In June, Grassley sent a letter to USDA Secretary Perdue relaying the frustration of farmers about the lack of enforcement of the Packers and Stockyards Act, and called for the report on the Holcomb, Kansas, fire to be released by August 9, 2020, or he would seek an audit of the USDA’s enforcement of the Packers and Stockyards Division. USDA took this issue seriously and released its report echoing the need for more transparency in the industry. Additionally, he partnered with Sen. Tester in sending a letter to Secretary Perdue recommending the department clarify an ambiguous proposed rule regarding the undue and reasonable preferences provision of the Packers and Stockyards Act.
This year, Grassley also joined Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and a bipartisan group of colleagues to introduce the Securing All Livestock Equitably (SALE) Act. Quick turnaround between the purchase and resale of cattle by a dealer often leaves the rancher who originally owned the cattle with little recourse if a dealer defaults on a purchase because the livestock has often already been resold. The SALE Act would establish dealer statutory trusts, mimicking existing packer statutory trusts, for the purpose of ensuring that cattle sellers receive payment should a livestock dealer become insolvent. 
Pork producers around the country faced significant challenges this year due to pork processing plant closures. Grassley joined his colleagues Sens. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Richard Burr (R-N.C.) in introducing the Responding to Epidemic Losses and Investing in the Economic Future (RELIEF) for Producers Act of 2020 , legislation that would provide relief to livestock and poultry producers amidst the coronavirus pandemic.
Grassley joined 30 members of Congress on a bipartisan, bicameral letter urging USDA Secretary Perdue to take immediate action to assist pork producers and maintain the pork food supply chain. As the COVID-19 pandemic progressed, Grassley led his colleagues in sending an additional letter to USDA to recommend additional funding for farmers being forced to depopulate their livestock herds. Farmers faced an animal welfare crisis due to overcrowding and the challenge of providing enough feed and water available to each animal. Grassley also joined Iowa leaders, Sen. Joni Ernst, Gov. Kim Reynolds and Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig in sending a letter to Vice President Mike Pence and requested additional support from the Administration for the state’s pork producers.
In addition to livestock farmers, Grassley urged his colleagues to support dairy farmers around the country. Additionally, he joined Sen. Ernst, Gov. Reynolds, and Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Naig in requesting the USDA to include egg producers and turkey producers in the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). In the second round of CFAP payments, both egg and turkey producers were eligible. 
To make sure tax dollars are spent as intended to benefit the farmers who actually work the land instead of managers or corporations, Grassley has been a longtime advocate for farm payment limitations. This year, USDA initially announced a final rule on the implementation of payment limitations and the definition of “actively engaged” in farming as part of the 2018 Farm Bill, which would have required additional family members to provide either 25 percent of the total management hours required by the operation on an annual basis or perform at least 500 hours of management annually. Unfortunately, USDA recently reversed this rule. Prior to this reversal, Grassley requested an additional GAO review of the program. The GAO report concluded that while USDA has improved its completion of eligibility compliance review, additional oversight is needed. Grassley will continue his fight to close loopholes that have allowed some operations to exploit federal farm payments at taxpayer expense.
Grassley joined the only other farmer in the U.S. Senate, Jon Tester (D-Montana), to address farmer mental health. Grassley and Tester authored the Seeding Rural Resilience Act which aims to curb growing rates of suicide in Rural America by implementing a voluntary stress management training program, creating a public service announcement campaign to raise awareness and directing the Secretary of Agriculture to work with state and local groups to identify best practices when responding to farm mental stress. This bill was successfully voted out of the Senate this summer and later became law as part of the National Defense Authorization Act.
Diseases like African swine fever have the potential to devastate entire sectors of U.S. agriculture. With that in mind, Grassley cosponsored the Protecting America’s Food & Agriculture Act of 2019 to address the shortage of agricultural inspectors who protect the nation’s food supply and agricultural industries at the border. This legislation was signed into law by President Trump earlier this year.
This year, the Trump administration kept its promise and successfully rolled back the harmful Obama-era “Waters of the United States” or “WOTUS” rule and replaced it with a workable rule that clearly defines what waters fall under federal jurisdiction. Grassley was a steadfast opponent of the original rule, which would have regulated 97 percent of Iowa farmland as a navigable waterway. This regulatory certainty will continue to help spur economic growth in Iowa and around the country while also ensuring individual property rights are protected. 
Enhancing water quality is critical to meeting the goals of Iowa’s Nutrient Reduction Strategy and making improvements to Iowa’s river and stream health. With that in mind, Grassley joined Sen. Ernst and a bipartisan group of senators to urge the USDA to make several changes to the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) to maximize the program’s ability for producers to use the program to enhance both soil health and water quality.
Grassley also celebrated Thanksgiving this year by praising an Iowa family whose turkeys were chosen for the National Thanksgiving Turkey Pardoning Ceremony at the White House.
Grassley joined Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) to introduce the Standard Merger and Acquisition Reviews Through Equal Rules (SMARTER) Act. This bill would require the Federal Trade Commission to go through the same procedures that the Department of Justice (DOJ) must go through when enforcing antitrust law, and would require the Federal Communications Commission to issue merger review decisions expeditiously.
Grassley also partnered with Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) in introducing the Criminal Antitrust Anti-Retaliation Act which extends whistleblower protections for employees who provide information to DOJ related to criminal antitrust violations. The Senate unanimously passed a similar version of the legislation in 2013, 2015 and 2017. This year, the legislation passed in both the House and Senate and was signed into law by President Trump in December.
In February, when the world was just learning about COVID-19, oversight and investigations staff for Grassley, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), received a classified briefing from the HHS Office of National Security (ONS) regarding the coronavirus threat and the status of U.S. government efforts to combat the spread of the deadly virus. 
In the early stages of the pandemic, Grassley urged further information sharing between federal health and intelligence agencies to strengthen the governmental response to the COVID-19 public health crisis and future health concerns. In April, he also joined colleagues in urging the executive branch to make relief assistance to long-term care facilities a top priority.
Grassley also was named to the bipartisan task force focused on safely re-opening America following the public health crisis. The task force includes Democrat and Republican members of both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.
Grassley was an original proponent of an emergency supplemental appropriations bill providing funding to combat the spread of COVID-19. The funding package amounts to an $8.3 billion surge in resources to combat COVID-19 and provides comprehensive funding for efforts on the local, state, national and international levels.
In March, Governor Reynolds declared a State of Public Health Emergency as confirmed COVID-19 cases rose. Grassley sent a letter to President Donald Trump asking that he promptly grant the Governor’s request for an expedited review of the major disaster declaration for the State of Iowa as a result of multiple cases of COVID-19 detected in the state.
As Senate Finance Committee chairman, Grassley authored several provisions that would eventually be included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act . This bill passed out of the Senate 96-0 and provided direct economic relief to American families, workers, employers and health care providers coping with the coronavirus pandemic.
Along with direct payments to individuals and families, the CARES Act expanded unemployment insurance benefit benefits for jobless workers, and lending programs for businesses of all sizes. The bipartisan package developed targeted, temporary tax relief to help businesses and hospitals continue operations. One-size-fits-all is not the way the U.S. economy operates, and yet nearly every sector is bearing the burden of social distancing and stay-at-home orders across the country.
Small businesses across the country were hit particularly hard by associated COVID-19 restrictions. To address this, Congress created the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) in the CARES Act to help keep workers on the payroll by providing small businesses forgivable loans to cover payroll expenses. As the pandemic worsened, Grassley worked with his colleagues to provide additional funding to this program. While the Senate Democrats originally tried to block it, the additional funding later successfully went through. Grassley also worked with the Department of Treasury and the Small Business Administration on clarifying terms and eligibility of the program for Iowa businesses and bankers.
For example, Grassley partnered with Finance Committee Ranking Member, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Richard E. Neal (D-Mass.) urging the Department of Treasury to allow small businesses to deduct expenses associated with PPP loans that are ultimately forgiven. Ultimately, Grassley and many of his colleagues disagreed with  Treasury’s final guidance.
Grassley worked with his colleagues to ensure the rural economy reaped the benefits of the CARES Act including additional funding for rural health centers, providers, programs, telehealth services and related infrastructure. Grassley also worked to secure relief for American agriculture. He worked to include $23.5 billion in the CARES Act to send emergency temporary relief to farm country to help survive the fall-out caused by the pandemic. Specifically, it set aside $9.5 billion for the USDA to directly support farmers and ranchers. The CARES Act also replenishes the Commodity Credit Corporation with $14 billion. Grassley called upon USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue to use some of these additional funds to help support the biofuels industry, including resources for higher blends infrastructure at filling stations and to leverage the purchasing power of the federal government to buy excess farm commodities and replenish food pantries and nutrition programs across the nation. He then introduced legislation with Sen. Amy Klobuchar to make this a requirement.
Overall, the CARES Act provided much-needed relief to help Americans, including workers, seniors and student borrowers.
On December 21, the Senate passed an additional large legislative package including COVID-19 relief and economic stimulus, tax and health care policy extensions and government funding. As chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Grassley championed several provisions including expanding unemployment insurance benefits, additional economic impact payments for individuals and families and extension of certain expiring provisions for families as well as small- and medium-sized businesses around the country. Additionally, under the Senate Finance Committee’s jurisdiction, this package extends a number of important Medicare, Medicaid and other health policies, including boosting payments to doctors in Iowa and other rural areas. It also provides permanent coverage for mental health telehealth visits, which are helpful during the pandemic and will remain critical for many Americans afterward. And, it extends the period over which state and local governments can use money from the Coronavirus Relief Fund provided under the CARES Act by one year, giving more flexibility to state and local governments as they face spending challenges caused by the pandemic. It also provides additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program. Grassley’s full statement on the legislative package and further details on what is included can be found HERE.
Grassley joined Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) to introduce the bipartisan State and Local Coronavirus Relief Fund Extension Act to extend the year-end deadline for states to use federal CARES Act assistance, as well as any future funding to state and local governments, through 2021. The goal of this bill is to provide flexibility in uses of Coronavirus Relief Fund resources by allowing spending by states, localities, territories, and tribes on coronavirus responses to be covered over a longer period of time.
Following implementation of the CARES Act, Grassley worked with his colleagues to craft an additional targeted relief package known as the HEALS Act. Unfortunately, both Senate and House Democrats refused to move forward with this legislation. Senate Democrats voted twice to block the legislation in the Senate. The HEALS Act would have provided relief measures supported on a bipartisan basis, such as providing additional funds for unemployment benefits, the Paycheck Protection Program, education, voting, state and local governments, recovery checks, and hiring and employee retention incentives. 
Throughout the funding negotiations, Grassley worked to ensure the COVID-19 relief funds would go to those who actually needed it. With that in mind, Grassley introduced the COVID-19 Funding Accountability Act . This legislation would impose strict congressional oversight over the implementation of various funding in the CARES Act as well as create bipartisan oversight boards.
Grassley criticized his Democratic colleagues when they wanted to impose a quarter of a trillion dollar retroactive tax increase on businesses in need of cash to restart their operations as states began to lift shut-down orders.
Grassley also worked with Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Tim Scott (R-S.C.) in introducing a bill to protect recovery payments provided in the recent CARES Act pandemic response legislation from garnishment by private debt collectors.
Grassley has been a longtime watchdog of waste, fraud and abuse. Unfortunately, throughout this pandemic, fraudsters have taken advantage of the American public through a variety of scams. Grassley wrote to the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) encouraging the IRS watchdog to engage in a public awareness and education campaign informing Americans of scams and frauds related to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the federal government’s response.
Grassley also partnered with Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) to call on DOJ to take vigorous action to protect consumers from price gouging during the coronavirus pandemic and help prevent the hoarding of essential medical supplies.
As COVID-19 affected areas of the country in different ways and at different times, Grassley applauded Gov. Reynolds’ work to combat the virus. As hardship hit more Iowans and events were canceled, he  urged Iowans to stay at home and do their part to slow the spread.
Although Grassley took all of the appropriate and recommended precautions, the senator tested positive for COVID-19 after learning of an earlier exposure. Grassley quarantined per CDC and local public health guidelines and at the recommendation of his doctors. Due to his quarantine, Grassley was unable to cast votes on the Senate floor for the first time in 27 years. Grassley has cast 8,927 consecutive votes and continues to hold the record for longest length of time without missing a vote in the history of the Senate. Ultimately, Grassley was asymptomatic throughout his quarantine and was cleared to return to work by his doctors.
Crime and Criminal Justice:
All Americans have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, including inmates in the state and federal prison system. Grassley and Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the lead authors of the bipartisan First Step Act (FSA), led 12 of their colleagues in a bipartisan letter pressing DOJ and the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to take necessary steps to protect the health and wellbeing of federal prison staff and inmates in Federal custody. They urged the release or transfer of the most vulnerable inmates to home confinement as permitted under the FSA. The senators called on BOP and DOJ to review and expedite current cases where the Elderly Home Detention Pilot Program would allow for an early transfer – where appropriate – of terminally ill and eligible elderly inmates to home confinement. In April, Grassley and Durbin sent a follow up letter to the DOJ Inspector General’s (IG) regarding its decision to assess whether facilities housing BOP inmates are complying with available guidance and best practices regarding preventing, managing, and containing potential COVID-19 outbreaks and asked them to expand the probe.
As a senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Grassley also participated in a hearing titled, “Examining Best Practices for Incarceration and Detention During COVID-19,” where he pressed DOJ and BOP officials on the use of home confinement and adherence to CDC guidelines on social distancing, use of personal protective equipment, and other risk mitigation efforts in correctional facilities.
Also, in an effort to protect the most vulnerable inmates in our society, Grassley and Durbin introduced the COVID-19 Safer Detention Act. This bill expands eligibility for and provides judicial review of the Elderly Home Detention Pilot Program, and also provides for the compassionate release of federal prisoners based on COVID-19 vulnerability and shortens the waiting period of judicial review during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 
Senator Grassley also led a letter to the Justice Department about its handling of COVID-19 in juvenile detention facilities. Along with Sens. Whitehouse and Ernst, Grassley urged the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) to equip the juvenile justice system with consistent, reliable, and transparent information to help mitigate the impact of the virus on vulnerable youth.
Grassley continued his work to protect children from predators online through his co-sponsorship of the EARN IT Act. This bill creates incentives for the tech industry to address online child sexual exploitation, by removing blanket immunity in Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. It also establishes a National Commission on Online Child Sexual Exploitation Prevention that will be responsible for developing voluntary best practices.
Lastly, Grassley reintroduced the Deterring Undue Enforcement by Protecting Rights of Citizens from Excessive Searches and Seizures Act of 2020, or the DUE PROCESS Act. This bipartisan bill seeks to protect property owners whose assets are seized by the federal government by increasing transparency and accountability in asset forfeiture proceedings. 
Defense Oversight:
Grassley’s extensive oversight work throughout his career has included a dogged pursuit for answers from the Pentagon over decades of wasteful spending and its inability to produce a clean financial audit.
Grassley has conducted oversight to hold the DoD accountable for over four decades. He continued to press the Department on the new Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) program, alleged conflicts of interest pertaining to those charged with creating its bid and reported disputes between bidders and the Department. This comes after the Department’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) completed a review and provided recommendations in response to Grassley and members of Congress raising concerns about the JEDI program. Last year, Grassley sent a letter to then Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, seeking information on Department policies intended to mitigate conflicts of interest and prevent the tailoring of procurement requests to match a specific vendor, as alleged in the JEDI program procurement process.
Grassley and several of his colleagues sent a letter to GAO in July 2018 requesting the agency conduct an independent review of the reasons behind the DoD’s failure to acquire modern financial information technology systems capable of generating reliable information and supporting credible financial statements. The report was released in September and reaffirmed Grassley’s longtime concerns about financial mismanagement and waste at the DoD. The Department is working towards a clean audit and updating its financial management systems. However, it’s clear from this report the Pentagon has a long way to go.
Grassley, along with the other requestors of the GAO report and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), also sent a letter earlier this year to the House and Senate Armed Services Committees, urging them to include in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2021 certain provisions that would make progress towards a clean audit, including more detailed reporting to Congress on DoD financial management systems. Both of the provisions were ultimately included in the final version of the NDAA. 
Earlier this year, Grassley renewed inquiries into potential wasteful and inappropriate travel spending at the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA), specifically seeking full and complete answers to prior questions about multiple trips to Hawaii.
Grassley joined Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) to reintroduce the Military Justice Improvement Act in response to reports of mishandling military sexual assaults. 
Grassley and Gillibrand also introduced bipartisan legislation to require the military to establish a “Safe to Report” policy. According to a Department of Defense report, in fiscal year 2018, only 30% of sexual assaults in the military were reported. Studies show more survivors are empowered to come forward without the threat of retaliation, and the Safe to Report Act empowers survivors of sexual violence to report these incidents without fear of collateral misconduct charges for minor offenses. This legislation was included in the final version of the NDAA. 
Also included in the NDAA was a provision that Grassley championed along with other members of the Iowa and Illinois delegation that seeks to improve Army real-estate management. The provision establishes a pilot program to create an online real-estate management system at several Army installations, with the goal of helping the military and federal government use existing resources more efficiently. 
Additionally, Grassley expanded his probe into the Department’s Office of Net Assessment’s (ONA) contract compliance after reviewing troubling documents related to contracts awarded to Professor Stefan Halper. Those documents call into question ONA’s stewardship of taxpayer dollars as well as its contract management and internal controls. In early 2019, Grassley requested the DoD Inspector General (IG) review allegations of mismanagement by ONA contracts for political, improper or wasteful activities. Grassley later sought information about ONA contracting processes following a DoD IG audit of the program, which found ONA could not provide sufficient documentation that Halper conducted all of his work in accordance with applicable laws and regulations. The Pentagon issued a corrective action plan for ONA in August.
On January 23, 2020, Grassley sought an inspector general investigation into the manufacturing practices of Lockheed Martin’s C-130J aircraft after whistleblower reports alleged a lack of oversight by the DoD has resulted in significant health and safety concerns. On October 8, 2020, Grassley sought additional information from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regarding the manufacturing practices of Lockheed Martin’s C-130J after learning of discrepancies in the initial investigation.
Derecho Recovery:
From year to year, natural disasters take place across the country. In August, many Iowans experienced a historic derecho. Immediately after the storm hit, Grassley visited Cedar Rapids to survey damage, meet with residents affected by the storm and visit a local nonprofit assisting in relief efforts. Grassley and Ernst also participated in a roundtable discussion with 20 nonprofit leaders and the Cedar Rapids Community Foundation. The local nonprofits assisted with housing, case management, mental health, volunteer coordination, food access and legal assistance.
Iowa’s agricultural community faced significant damage and new challenges resulting from the storm. Grassley led the Iowa congressional delegation in sending a letter to USDA Secretary Perdue urging a prompt approval of Gov. Reynolds Secretarial Disaster Designation request for 57 Iowa counties that suffered losses as a result of the derecho. Following this request, Grassley and Ernst sent an additional letter to USDA requesting it provide additional support for Iowa farmers impacted by the derecho and severe drought. They also sent a letter requesting additional funding for Iowa agricultural cooperatives.
In addition to tens of millions of acres of damaged crops, grain bins across the state were destroyed. Grassley and Ernst requested the U.S. Department of Commerce lift Section 232 tariffs on steel that will be used in Iowa’s derecho recovery, especially on steel used for rebuilding grain bins and machine sheds.
Grassley worked with Ernst to file legislation to provide tax relief to Iowans affected by the derecho. The legislation would provide certain employers a tax credit for retaining employees, enhance the tax deduction for disaster-related personal casualty losses, and facilitate enhanced access to tax-exempt retirement plans, among other benefits.
Additionally, Grassley and Ernst worked to ensure Iowans affected by the derecho weren’t victims of fraud. They sent a letter to the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission to investigate price-gouging scams.
Grassley and Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) continued their investigation into the fatal shooting of Bijan Ghaisar by U.S. Park Police in 2017. Grassley first contacted the FBI in December 2018 about its investigation into the shooting, and the FBI responded in March with little information, prompting a follow-up letter from Grassley. Since then the senators also have pressed the Department of Justice (DOJ) to provide details on specific reforms being implemented to avoid a repeat of its drawn-out and opaque investigation of U.S. Park Police’s fatal shooting of Bijan Ghaisar.
This legislative session, Grassley and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), who chairs the Senate Homeland Security Committee, persistently contacted U.S. Attorney General William Barr and FBI Director Christopher Wray to investigate the origins of the FBI’s Russia investigation, code-named Crossfire Hurricane, to bring transparency to FBI mismanagement. Grassley has long been skeptical of the FBI’s justification to spy on Carter Page, including its reliance on the debunked anti-Trump dossier, which was compiled by a former British spy, sub-sourced to Russian officials and paid for by then-candidate Trump’s Democrat political opponents. The DOJ inspector general determined the dossier to be central and essential to the FBI’s Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant application. The inspector general also determined the FBI’s applications included at least 17 errors and omissions and over 50 errors and omissions in the Woods File. After further reviewing the DOJ OIG report on Crossfire Hurricane, Grassley and Johnson sent Barr a follow up letter requesting the declassification of four footnotes in the report on FISA abuses in the Crossfire Hurricane investigation. Those footnotes were later declassified and showed how Russian disinformation infected the Steele Dossier.
On April 25, 2019, Grassley and Johnson wrote to the DOJ regarding the FBI and how it may have used a counterintelligence briefing to conduct surveillance on the Trump transition team during Crossfire Hurricane. 
In April, Grassley and Johnson requested additional Crossfire Hurricane records after the declassified footnotes revealed the Steele Dossier contained reported Russian disinformation.