After decades of sending Republican Chuck Grassley and Democrat Tom Harkin to represent them in the U.S. Senate, Iowans are seeing their power team reach a milestone in public service.
A study this month by the University of Minnesota finds the two senators from opposing parties have racked up more side-by-side experience than any other state’s current senatorial delegation — by far. Harkin and Grassley have served together for 21,925 days, or just over 60 years, far ahead of second-place Michigan, whose senators Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow have served a combined total of 16,812 days, or about 46 years.
When Congress’s entire history is included, Harkin and Grassley place fifth on the all-time list, behind past Senate delegations from South Carolina (1), Mississippi (2), Arkansas (3) and Maine (4).
Both Grassley and Harkin say the real benefit of their tenure is their ability to influence the agenda in a town where seniority is sacrosanct and legislation is nearly impossible without relationships. Recent legislation with far-reaching effects on Iowa such as the federal farm bill, wind energy tax credits and dairy programs, for example, all have been heavily influenced by the two men.
What do you think of their long-term tenures of Grassley and Harkin? Is their experience a positive or a negative for Iowa in the big picture?