11.03.15

Statement of Senator Patrick Leahy on Senator Chuck Grassley Casting His 12,000th Vote

I’ve had the privilege of serving with several hundred Senators in this body over the years I have been here.  And Senator Grassley has been a very special friend during that time.  He has represented the voices of Iowans for nearly three and a half decades.  I think we have been friends for that three and a half decades.

When I think of Senator Grassley - 12,000 votes, hundreds of hearings, countless Tweets, and probably four dozen sweater vests later – he’s the same, down to earth Iowa farmer who visits every one of the state’s 99 counties, every year.  He is also the Iowa farmer who, when Vermont was hit with terrible flooding a few years back, was the first person to contact me to say, “Vermont stood with Iowa when we were hit with a natural disaster.  Iowa now stands with Vermont.”

He and I have worked together, and we have had a productive relationship that spans those decades. On the Judiciary Committee, we take our leadership responsibilities seriously.  We have both made sure that both as Chairman and Ranking Members, that every Senator has a chance to be heard.  We have found ways to come together on meaningful legislation.  We enjoy each other’s company.  We are able to kid each other, as I did on his recent birthday.  But more importantly, we do what I was told to do when I first came to the Senate, and I’m sure what Senator Grassley was told when he did - we keep our word.  We’ve always keep out word to each other.

It also helps that we both married above ourselves.  His wonderful wife Barbara and my wife Marcelle are very close friends.  They sometimes say that they belong to that special club that nobody wants to join, that of cancer survivors.

Senator Grassley’s willingness to listen and hard work was most recently on display in the Judiciary Committee, as we hammered out an important compromise on sentencing reform which brought the left and the right together – both parties together.  I think every single Senator complimented his leadership. 

And I must admit I was grateful for Senator Grassley’s comments last week when I, too, crossed a voting milestone. He said we have been good friends, and hoped we could cast many more votes together.  I share that hope, and congratulate my friend on this achievement.                                                       

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