WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley is releasing five videos, one every day this week, looking back at memorable moments from his annual 99 county meetings and how they have helped inform his work for Iowans. Grassley holds at least one question-and-answer session with Iowans in each of Iowa’s 99 counties annually, and has done so every year since he was elected to the United States Senate. This week, Grassley is holding meetings in 17 different counties. Today’s video recalls the difficult 1991 vote on the Persian Gulf War Resolution when Grassley broke party lines and voted “no.” The video can be found here and the text can be found below.
In the weeks leading up to the vote on the Persian Gulf War Resolution, I went to the Waterloo airport in December 1990.
I remember a unit of reservists assigned to the Marine Corps was departing for duty to Saudi Arabia. One Guardsman I met that day had served a tour of duty in Vietnam decades ago. I figured if Congress is going to vote on sending men and women in uniform into harm’s way, it’s my responsibility to know what it’s like for them and their families when they say good-bye.
Before Congress voted in January, we had seventeen-hundred Iowa reservists and National Guard soldiers serving in the desert sands of the Persian Gulf. Operation Desert Shield was underway. The U.S. and our allies banned trade with Iraq and froze Iraqi assets. When it came time to vote on January 12, I knew without question I would support our soldiers no matter the outcome would be. They were putting their lives on the line for freedom.
Make no mistake. It’s not easy to vote against the vast majority of your party and your president. Based on my feedback from Iowans and after many hours of deliberation, my gut told me to vote “no” against military action. I felt the people were not fully behind it. And I didn’t want to risk dividing the country like Vietnam. No vote carries as much emotional weight as a vote to go to war.
Looking back now, the Persian Gulf vote was one of the toughest votes that I ever cast. But I based it on the principle that’s guided me for decades that I’ve been in public office up to that point and since: A representative of the people should vote in Congress the way we speak to our constituents at home. Representative government is a two-way street. Iowans count on me to listen and I count on them for feedback. In turn, Iowans hold me accountable for my votes in the U.S. Senate when they cast their vote at the ballot box.