Breaking up the night after Valentine’s Day…

with Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley

The truth is, the Republican U.S. senator from Iowa, Chuck Grassley, and I have been pushing each other away for years. But like many toxic relationships, they fester much longer than they ever should as you make futile attempts to rekindle the good times from the honeymoon phase. And then when you finally cut the cord all you can think is, “why did I wait so long?”

After today, I wait no longer.

Any hopes of a reconciliation went by the wayside when Chuck “Rootin, Tootin” Grassley exploited his history of advocating for persons with disabilities by using them for political cover as he led the Senate’s vote to repeal a law designed to curb the ability of a person with mental illness to obtain a gun.

Now, before going further, to be clear, I understand there are proponents of this repeal amongst groups that advocate for persons with disabilities — voicing opposition along with the National Rifle Association, making for the strangest of bedfellows.

However, one has to ask, if we are to believe that Grassley and other Republicans are truly concerned about treating mental illness — instead of limiting guns — like they say they are, and further that he actually cares about persons with disabilities beyond using them as pawns for political gain, then why not use their consolidation of power in both branches to improve what is already there?

Instead, the Republican-controlled Congress is taking advantage of the little-used Congressional Review Act to dissolve basically any regulation Obama put in place since last summer. And the CRA carries with it the caveat that “if a joint resolution of disapproval were enacted, the CRA provides that a rule may not be issued in “substantially the same form.”

And while that doesn’t completely rule out hope for significant legislation to control this issue, when the sponsor of this specific repeal is in the top 10 percent of recipients of contributions from the NRA among all U.S. senators, I have a hard time believing he will revisit it.

Which leaves us with the question:

How are we going to help ensure we don’t have another Sandy Hook?

That might be a good question to ask Chuck Grassley.

As a kid growing up in the then moderate land of Iowa politics, you not only could count on your elected officials to represent the state well in Washington D.C., but you could expect them to treat their constituents fairly and work for you regardless of political ideology. And finding common ground was commonplace.

My parents were both professors of special education and my dad lobbied hard in Washington to help introduce policy that protected rights for the millions of people with disabilities in this country, often working side-by-side with former U.S. senator, Democrat, Tom Harkin.

And, consistently, he talked about how Grassley was right there with them. In fact I recall numerous him saying how the senator was his “favorite” Republican in office. So, having no reason to think differently myself, I bought into this narrative.

But something has changed in Grassley, and it seems to have coincided in the lead up to the 2010 election. Despite resounding wins in every previous election, the threat of a primary opponent and ever-increasing socially conservative base seems to have drawn him further and further away from any attempt to find common ground.

It’s frustrating for me when I think of my parent’s formerly favorite Republican and how disappointed they would be with the suspicion that he used his political capital built on years of supporting people with disabilities for a cheap and easy win that not only increases the potential bottom line for the NRA, but sustains the threat of another Sandy Hook.

If you’re disappointed in Chuck Grassley too, feel free to let him know by calling (202) 224–3744 or emailing, here.