Fact check | Claiming that Chuck Grassley left Senate Finance Committee is wrong

Mike Franken, who is running in the [Democratic] primary to challenge Grassley in the November election, claimed the senator had left the Senate Finance Committee.
Lyle Muller | PolitiFact Iowa

If your time is short

  • Mike Franken, who is seeking the Democratic nomination in Iowa to run against presumptive Republican nominee and long-time incumbent Chuck Grassley for U.S. Senate, claimed on Twitter that Grassley left the Senate’s Finance Committee.
  • Grassley, the committee’s former chairman, is still on the committee.
  • The Franken campaign took the tweet down after being contacted by PolitiFact Iowa.
  • Mike Franken, a retired U.S. Navy admiral seeking Iowa’s Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate seat in this year’s general election, took aim on May 5 at his party’s biggest target in the race: longtime Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley.

Franken’s launch pad was Twitter, with a since-deleted message:

“Senator Grassley hopped off the Finance Committee, where he could be helpful to Iowa and the nation, in favor of the Judiciary Committee…where he is a tool for the radical right, even some insurrectionists.”

Franken campaign manager Julie Stauch clarified Franken’s tweet in an email to PolitiFact Iowa. “The tweet should have read Senate Finance Committee Chairmanship. It was in reference to Grassley choosing to chair the Judiciary Committee over Finance in order to impede the Senate rules regarding judicial appointments,” she wrote.

Stauch said the tweet was taken down the next morning after PolitiFact Iowa contacted her.

Grassley was the Committee on Finance’s chairman for six months in 2001, and again from January 2003 to January 2007 and January 2019 to January 2021. He also was the ranking minority member from June 2001 to January 2003 and from January 2007 to January 2011.

Republican Party rules for U.S. Senate committee leadership say that members may not serve more than three two-year terms as a committee chair or minority ranking member. The rules also state a Republican cannot serve as a chair or ranking member for more than one committee, with a few exceptions for the ethics committee and joint committees for printing and the Library of Congress.

Grassley is not the ranking minority member of the finance committee but has that role on the Committee on the Judiciary, while remaining on the finance committee as a senior member. Grassley also serves on the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry; Committee on the Budget; Joint Committee on Taxation, and is vice chairman of the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control.

“Grassley’s leadership and committee assignments ensure Iowans have an influential voice at the policymaking tables, advocating for Iowans in the most pressing issues of our day,” Grassley campaign communications director Michaela Sundermann wrote in an email to PolitiFact Iowa. “Senator Grassley has achieved these assignments through years of hard work to ensure he weighs in on public policy important to the lives and livelihoods of Iowans.”

Grassley has not missed a full committee hearing this year, Sundermann said. “He holds that perfect attendance record while serving on multiple committees including Judiciary, Agriculture and Budget Committees,” she wrote to PolitiFact Iowa.


Our Ruling

Franken tried to portray Grassley as leaving a committee that Grassley never left. Even if you consider that Grassley left a leadership position on the finance committee to take a leadership role at the Committee on the Judiciary, Grassley remains a senior member of the finance committee, plus Republican rules prohibited him from having a leadership role on finance.

Franken’s campaign clarified the tweet when asked about it and eventually took it down the morning of May 6. But saying Grassley “hopped off” the Committee on Finance during 24 hours that the tweet existed was False.