Yesterday, something extremely rare happened here in this chamber. Something so unusual that only a few of us current Senators had ever seen it before.
A roll call vote that did not include the name of our president pro tem and distinguished colleague from Iowa, Senator Chuck Grassley.
Before yesterday, the senior Senator for Iowa had not missed one single vote in this body since 1993, when he was in Iowa helping with historic flooding.
Since then, across twenty-seven years and 8,927 Senate votes, Senator Grassley had shown up for every single one.
It is by far the longest such streak in Senate history. Senator Grassley broke the previous record back in January 2016, and obviously continued to extend it for almost five years.
This show of diligence and dedication is remarkable by any measure. But because of who Senator Grassley is, it hasn’t seemed remarkable at all. That incredible commitment to serving Iowans and working around the clock is just who our colleague is. That devotion is just his daily routine.
This is the Senator who manages to visit all 99 counties in Iowa every year. Nearly 9,000 consecutive Senate votes must have seemed a cakewalk by comparison.
But yesterday, our colleague’s streak had to be temporarily placed on hold. On the advice of doctors, after close contact with someone who had later tested positive for the coronavirus, Senator Grassley began self-quarantining yesterday morning.
Later in the day, our colleague let us know he had tested positive himself – underscoring why his good judgement to follow doctors’ orders while awaiting his test result was absolutely the right decision.
So our colleague’s historic run has been put on pause for the same reason that it was compiled in the first place: leadership, service to others, and a determination to set the right example.
On Monday, in his floor remarks, our colleague reminded all Americans of our obligations in this moment. Quote: “Although promising vaccines for the coronavirus are on the horizon, it is more important than ever to stop the surge… Wash your hands; limit your activity outside your household; social distance; wear a mask. We are going to get through this together, but we need everyone to do their part.”
All of the Senate’s thoughts and prayers are with our distinguished colleague, who reported yesterday evening that he still feels fine. We hope that will remain the case. Certainly, if any member of this body has the good health and stamina to kick the virus to the curb, it’s Senator Grassley.
So we’ll look forward to seeing him again soon.