Q: What’s on the agenda in the new Congress?
A: The leadership landscape shifted in January with the inauguration of a new president and a new majority in the U.S. Senate. That means for the next two years, one party will control the political branches of government, from the White House to the federal bureaucracy and both chambers of Congress. As Iowa’s senior U.S. senator, I work hard to serve Iowans as effectively as possible, whether I’m in the leadership ranks of the majority or the minority. Whereas the Senate majority sets the agenda, it’s incumbent upon the Senate minority to keep check on overreach and radical policies. My longstanding commitment to bipartisanship and disregard for who takes the credit strengthens my effectiveness for good government and for representing Iowans. What counts is what matters to Iowans. And that drives my work to keep a tight-fisted grip on the public purse and hold government accountable to the people via aggressive oversight. In the 117th Congress, I’ll continue serving on four key committees in the U.S. Senate, including Agriculture, Budget, Finance and Judiciary. From these platforms, I’ll have a hand in shaping policies instrumental to the daily lives and livelihoods of Iowa taxpayers, patients, families, farmers, small business people, health care providers and seniors. Every chance I get, I’ll go to the mat for Iowa’s clean energy jobs and fight for our state’s fair share when it comes vaccine distribution, rural health and infrastructure dollars, including rural broadband. As Congress considers a sixth pandemic-relief package, I’ll fight tooth and nail to squeeze every penny out of the four trillion tax dollars already in the pipeline and to ensure additional resources are targeted to Americans and sectors of the economy in need. If there’s one thing the White House and Congress ought to agree on it’s this: putting the pandemic behind us and getting Americans back to work and back to school as safely and quickly as possible.
Q: What policy priorities will you push from the Senate Judiciary Committee?
A: From the Senate Judiciary Committee, I’ll serve as the top Republican, known as the Ranking Member, during the 117th Congress. As one of the original standing committees of the U.S. Senate, the Judiciary Committee has broad jurisdiction of the federal judiciary, crime, antitrust, bankruptcy, intellectual property, civil liberties, constitutional law and amendments and immigration. From here, I’ll build on landmark bipartisan criminal justice reforms with Sen. Dick Durbin, including legislation that would expand implementation of an elderly home detention pilot program during the pandemic. There’s more work to do to help the U.S. address the opioid crisis. I’ll work to expand the temporary scheduling order on fentanyl analogues to stop deadly drugs from flooding in from China. More unfinished business includes my bipartisan work to strengthen school safety, including the EAGLES Act, and support for police funding and policing reforms, including the JUSTICE Act which I co-sponsored with Sen. Tim Scott.
My longstanding efforts to strengthen the allocation of resources for juvenile offenders, as well as survivors of human trafficking, domestic violence and sexual assault will continue as Congress considers renewal of juvenile justice and crime victim laws on the books.
One of my top priorities from my chairmanship of the Senate Finance Committee — to lower drug prices — will continue, in addition to other measures within the jurisdiction of the Judiciary Committee where I’ll advance my bipartisan legislation to stop anti-competitive practices in the pharmaceutical drug industry. As Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I’ll keep pushing to prohibit abusive tactics that delay generic drugs from getting on health benefit plans and shelf space at the local pharmacy and to stop abusive use of the regulatory process that branded pharmaceutical companies use to thwart FDA approval for generics and biosimilars. I’ll also continue my work with Sen. Amy Klobuchar to ensure antitrust authorities have the resources they need to enforce the antitrust laws and protect consumers. Iowans are concerned about consolidation across the U.S. economy and its impact on competition, choice and cost for consumers, patients and farmers.
The American people must have faith in their institutions of government. As a watchdog for good government, I’ll keep pushing for whistleblower protections and sunshine laws, including improving the public’s right to know what its government is doing behind the scenes to make policy decisions and strengthening the Freedom of Information Act. I’ll also push to update the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) to give the Justice Department new tools to detect and deter secret foreign lobbying and influence efforts. Transparency brings accountability and we need to ensure policymakers and the American public know when influence campaigns are being pushed by foreign interests. Those foreign interests haven’t stopped at just influence efforts. For example, my oversight activities have shown that China and other countries actively work to steal our intellectual property and taxpayer-funded research. Accordingly, I will keep a watchful eye on foreign interference in academia and research, not just lobbying. I’ll also aggressively oversee the Justice Department and its components, including the FBI, for waste, fraud and abuse. My oversight of Crossfire Hurricane and the Department’s failures, as well as the Intelligence Community’s failures, made it clear to me that Congress must engage in robust oversight of those entities and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act process to ensure our civil liberties are not infringed by government overreach.
Of course, the Judiciary Committee also has jurisdiction over nominations to the federal courts and immigration laws. I’m pushing to make sure the people’s business is conducted with full transparency, particularly with efforts in the Biden administration to “reform” the federal judiciary. From my leadership position, I won’t let up on my advocacy for border security and justice for crime victims of sanctuary jurisdictions. I’ll also continue my work to ensure our immigration laws serve the nation’s interests, including restoring integrity to investor and work visa programs that are plagued with fraud and abuse and unfairly displace American workers. Congress has a full plate of unfinished business on the menu. It’s a good thing I have a hearty appetite for hard work.