Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley addressed a number of constituent concerns at a town hall meeting Thursday at the Iowa Lakes Community College auditorium.
Border security - again - seemed an issue on a lot of people's minds.
"The status quo is not working," Grassley said. "We're making the same mistakes with this bill (immigration) that we were with Obamacare."
Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley addressed constituents Thursday at Iowa Lakes Community College.
EDN photo by Michael Tidemann
Another concern was attempts to remove Christianity from the military chaplaincy.
Unfortunately, Grassley said, Christians aren't always as adamant as other faiths in speaking out. "We're our own worst enemy," he said.
Another constituent asked why Grassley had voted against a bill requiring stricter background checks for gun buyers, citing a poll showing 88 percent of Iowans wanted stricter background checks. "But you voted against it," the man said.
Grassley said communication he had received was three-to-one "in opposition to doing almost anything to the Second Amendment."
Grassley said he had offered an alternate amendment to the legislation because the original bill didn't address mental health issues. "I think it's very important to deal with mental health," Grassley said, noting that only 12-15 percent of states report felons to the national database.
Grassley said that in his amendment resources would have been provided to cities that have a lot of gun-related murders.
As for gun control, Grassley drew a contrast between the administration's current push for gun control versus the sale of 2,000 guns in Arizona to straw purchasers with the intent to follow the guns across the Mexican border. Unfortunately, the guns weren't followed and a border agent was killed in the US side of the border with one of the guns.
One educator questioned what she saw as Grassley's opposition to the education common core.
Grassley said he was not going after the substance of the common core but rather a national curriculum, observing that 46 states had followed procedures for the Race to the Top but only 12 states received awards.
"I don't want a national curriculum," Grassley said.
The educator said if a child moves to a different state with a different curriculum, it's difficult for the child to catch up.
Grassley said though that teachers have told him that national common core legislation takes away their freedom, citing 400 questions that educators are supposed to know the answers to about students and families. "It's quite an invasion of privacy," he said.
And when the educator said the more information she has, the easier it is to deal with a student, Grassley asked what if that information found its way into a national database.
Another woman and former educator said she didn't teach to any national or state guidelines. Rather, she was teaching individual children to read and write and pay attention to parents' values and that no statistics were kept except for the local area.
Grassley agreed, saying control of education was left to states under the 10th Amendment.
Ringsted-area farmer Jim Boyer asked about restrictive trade practices by China and Russia in the guise of food safety and cash given to countries in need rather than direct food shipments.
"They're (China and Russia) using political science, not science," Grassley said. As to Boyer's second question, Grassley said cargo preference laws dictate that food be shipped on American vessels which are heavily subsidized, raising the cost of sending humanitarian aid, making sending money cheaper and allowing more grain to be sent. Grassley said it didn't matter from which country grain is purchased since purchasing grain raises the world market price.
Dr. Richard Lepird railed President Obama's use of administrative rulings, for example in the area of gun control.
Grassley admitted it was the responsibility of Congress to have oversight.
"I don't think we do an adequate job of oversight," he said. "I probably spend more time on oversight than I do on legislation, for example." He said the courts are another alternative, citing one small businessman who successfully took the Obama administration to court over interim appointments.
Another woman asked about the impact of sequestration on White House tours.
"You can't do away with the sequestration because Congress is spending too much money," Grassley observed, adding that there was no justification to close the White House to the public.
"This is a political stunt on the part of the administration," Grassley said. "Some of the pain is that you can't go to the White House."