WASHINGTON (AP) — Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa is giving up the chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Committee after shepherding 84 of President Donald Trump’s judicial nominees through the confirmation process over the past two years, including Supreme Court Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.
Grassley said he plans to become chairman of the Senate Finance Committee next year. To do that, he’ll have to give up the gavel of the Judiciary Committee, which he has held since 2015. Democrats have accused Grassley of unfairly disregarding Senate protocols and courtesies to get Trump’s nominees confirmed.
The move paves the way for Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. to become the next Judiciary chairman. Graham has become a close Trump ally and was a vocal supporter of Kavanaugh’s confirmation, pushing back against sexual misconduct allegations, which Kavanaugh denied.
“If I am fortunate enough to be selected by my colleagues to serve as Chairman, I will push for the appointment and Senate confirmation of highly qualified conservative judges to the federal bench and aggressive oversight of the Department of Justice and FBI,” Graham tweeted Friday.
Grassley, 85, is serving his seventh term. As chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Grassley will oversee legislative efforts on taxes and health care. The committee also has jurisdiction over trade issues, a huge issue in his home state of Iowa where farmers and manufacturers have dealt with retaliatory tariffs from China, the European Union and elsewhere for those imposed by the Trump administration.
Grassley said he would focus on more tax cuts. “I want to continue to work to make sure that as many Americans as possible get to experience this good economy for themselves,” he said in his announcement.
But prospects for agreement on taxes probably got harder with Democrats taking control of the House. Democrats opposed the Trump tax cuts, saying they went mostly to the rich and increased the nation’s debt.