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Sen. Chuck Grassley‘s decision to seek an eighth term in 2022 has an immediate effect on the outlook for Republicans’ committee leadership roster.
Grassley, 88, not only wants to continue serving his constituents’ interests in Iowa but also to keep holding key posts in the chamber, particularly if his party retakes it in the midterm elections.
Grassley has exhausted his time atop the powerful Finance Committee, where he played a large role in writing the tax packages of the last 20 years as chairman and ranking member. But aides said he still has time left to serve as the top Republican at the Judiciary Committee.
“He termed out on Finance on either side,” said Grassley spokesman Taylor Foy, referring to serving in the top spot in the majority and the minority. But on Judiciary, “he could be the top Republican for four years depending on how the majority shapes up.”
Senate Republicans have set some limits on lawmakers’ committee leadership terms. While Democrats haven’t placed such restrictions, the GOP limits how long a Republican can serve as chair and ranking member on a panel to six years each.
Grassley, currently Judiciary’s ranking member, served four years as chairman from 2015-2019. If Republicans win back control of the Senate, he can take the chair back for two more years. If not, Foy said he could stay as ranking member for two more years.
If he becomes chairman again, Grassley would preside over confirmation hearings of President Joe Biden’s judicial picks, including any Supreme Court nominations.
The senator’s re-election announcement Friday was a boon to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell‘s (R-Ky.) full-court press to retake the majority next year. Grassley, who enjoys high popularity in his home state, led former Rep. Abby Finkenauer (D) 55%-37% in the Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll released this week.
“I will work as hard as ever to earn their continued support in the months ahead,” Grassley said, announcing his plans shortly after completing his annual 99-County Tour of the state. “Iowans know how seriously I take my work representing them in the U.S. Senate to solve problems, which is why I never miss a vote.”
But Grassley’s decision also means many younger senators, including Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who stepped aside so Grassley could reclaim the top GOP spot on Judiciary this Congress, will have to wait longer for their own turns as chairs or ranking members. Graham is next in line behind Grassley on the panel.
If Grassley remains in office and exhausts his Judiciary leadership service, he could move on to be chairman or ranking member of the Budget Committee, said Foy.
Such a move might again displace Graham, who’s ranking member on that committee. However, it would open up the top spot on Judiciary.
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