Grassley on the Passing of Chris Allen
Jan 15, 2020
Prepared Floor Remarks by U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa
Chairman, Senate Finance Committee
Wednesday, January 15, 2020
Last week, the Finance Committee and the Senate lost a dedicated public servant and all-around wonderful man, with the unexpected passing of Chris Allen.
Chris has been a member of the Finance Committee tax team since 2018. I was fortunate that he was willing to continue in that role when I reclaimed the gavel last year after the retirement of my friend and former Chairman Orrin Hatch.
As members, we’re blessed with the dedicated people like Chris who come to Capitol Hill to perform public service. They come here to make a difference no matter what their party or ideology. They come from all walks of life, religious backgrounds and from all over the country. They work long hours, and sometimes their work is stymied by the political headwinds. But, when an idea is a good one and the people pursuing it do so with a full heart and focused mind, it will eventually become law.
Last year proved to be a year when a number of good ideas finally became law in the area of retirement security, in no small part because of Chris’ hard work and dedication. After more than three years, we were finally able to see the Finance Committee’s Retirement Enhancement and Savings Act, which is better known as RESA, become law after it was incorporated into the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act. Chris was instrumental in helping navigate the long, and at times contentious, process that culminated in this important package of retirement provisions being enacted in December.
Possibly even more important, Chris brought his deep knowledge of multiemployer pensions to bear over the past several years to help us move forward on important reforms. In the last Congress, Chris served as the staff director of the Joint Select Committee on Solvency of Multiemployer Pension Plans. Congress formed the committee to address the impending insolvency of a number of multiemployer pension plans and the projected insolvency of the Multiemployer Fund of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC). With Chris’ steady hand and tireless efforts, the Joint Select Committee laid a critical foundation in 2018 for addressing the multiemployer pension crisis.
Chris carried that work forward on my Finance Committee staff. Through months of work with Finance Committee member offices, the HELP Committee, the PBGC, and the various stakeholder groups, Chris led the effort to build on the Joint Select Committee’s work. That effort led to the development of the Multiemployer Pension Recapitalization and Reform Plan that Chairman Alexander and I released in November. Resolving the multiemployer pension crisis remains a top priority and now with another important reason to see it done in Chris’ memory.
While Chris has been a key asset to the Finance Committee on retirement and pension policy, his depth of knowledge went much deeper. Prior to joining the Committee, Chris served as Senator Robert’s senior tax policy advisor for seven years, and played a key role in helping us develop and pass the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, focusing heavily on the tax rules affecting farmers and ranchers across the nation.
A close look at Chris’ resume shows that he was very successful in working for the National Association of State Treasurers and the Financial Accounting Foundation. He also worked at other firms linked to his expertise in financial services, regulation, and legislation.
What stands out about Chris is his ability to bring folks with very different views together in the classic legislative process. His ability with numbers and his dedication to public policy, made him stand out. I’m confident that had the Good Lord not taken Chris last week, he’d remain a fixture on the Finance Committee staff for many years to come. Public service was simply at the core of Chris’ identity as a professional.
And a key to Chris’ success was his genial nature and quick wit. Everyone felt comfortable with Chris, and Chris was comfortable with them. With Chris, policy work was fun, important, and sustaining. His goodwill and dedication was infectious. Every day was meaningful. Every day was a source of joy.
As I said in my statement on Friday night, Chris was a public servant who brought a deep well of knowledge to his work. He will leave behind a legacy of impact on so many lives that he was able to improve with his expertise, competence and hard work. But, he never let that keep him from living life to the fullest, especially where his family was concerned.
Chris was a devoted father to two wonderful daughters, Lucie and Sophie. Chris was a loving husband for nearly 30 years to his wife, Lynda-Marie. Chris was a thoughtful and compassionate son and brother. Chris was a fierce friend to so many who came to know him during his 58 years. Chris knew how to live life.
Losing Chris is extremely difficult for all of us. At times, the finger of God reaches down and takes a person we know and love. It’s not for us to know why. What we do know is we all got to know Chris. He was part of our lives, and we all benefitted from the time we had with him. We are all blessed to have that.
For his family and the countless others who had the good fortune to know and work with Chris, a piece of him will live on with each of us in every memory of him. Whether it was of Chris’ positivity and sincerity or the endless ways he could inject humor into a difficult situation, Chris was a blessing to those who were fortunate enough to know him.
Rest in peace, my friend, Chris Allen.
God bless Chris’ family, and may he show them his grace as they take these next steps in life’s path.
Chris will be greatly missed.