CORNING — U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, visited Adams County Monday during an hour-long stop at Corning Nursing and Rehab where he met with local constituents and answered questions concerning immigration and the economy.
Grassley voted against the immigration bill that passed in the Senate Thursday. The bill provides a pathway for undocumented immigrants to become U.S. citizens.
Questions were raised about the border and the ability to secure it.
“There are some, probably, good things in the bill, though I voted against it,” said Grassley. “What I’ve learned from my town meetings, and what I’ve learned from polls, people believe there ought to be immigration reform, but they always say one thing: secure the border first.”
The bill has an amendment that affirms undocumented immigrants could not receive green card status until the government increases border agents by 20,000 and completes a 700-mile border fence. The amendment also affirms E-Verify must be phased in to prevent businesses from hiring unauthorized workers and adds to entry-exit systems to track if foreign nationals stay longer than their visas allow.
“E-Verify has been voluntary,” Grassley said, “for maybe 10 or 15 years, and a lot of businesses use it, but it’s quite a small part of it. And the reason they use it is it gives them some defense if they end up hiring someone that is undocumented. But I support E-Verify mandatory, and I think it’ll be in the final package.”
Economy is still a topic on the minds of local Iowa residents, with the focus being on the budget, or lack thereof.
Grassley said there are two budgets: the presidential and congressional budgets. The presidential budget was submitted in April, two months late, and the congressional budget has yet to be submitted.
“The president wants to go back on a decision that he suggested to Congress as a compromise,” said Grassley. “And, that’s the program that we’re under at this point, called sequestration. And, his budget and the budget that passed the Senate, not the one that passed the House, he would undo that.”
The sequestration cuts federal spending to programs across the board, except several major programs, like Social Security, and was to take effect Jan. 1. However, it was delayed until March 1 because of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012.
“A budget is a plan for what you’re going to spend,” said Grassley. “Also, don’t forget, every year there are appropriation bills that actually give the authority to spend money.”
It’s estimated sequestration will cut back spending by more than $1 trillion over the next eight years.
“One of two dollars will have been taken out of the budget over the next 10 years, so that adds up to 120 million a year,” Grassley said. “And, people, like Simpson-Bowles’ commission, says that’s about half of what we should be doing, see.”