U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) was unanimously nominated by the Senate Republican majority to become the next Senate President Pro Tempore during the 116th Congress that convenes on January 3rd. The President Pro Tempore in the third in line of presidential succession after the Vice President and Speaker of the House. 

The role mentioned in Article I, Section 3 of the Constitution is limited. The President Pro Tempore technically presides over the U.S. Senate when the Vice President, who is the President of the Senate, is not in the chamber but in reality rarely does so. Traditionally the role has been given to the most senior member of the majority party caucus. U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) currently holds the position, but is retiring. Grassley is the most senior Republican in the Senate elected in 1980 having served 38 years.  U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) is the longest serving member of the chamber.

The only other Iowan to hold the office was Sen. Albert B. Cummins, who was first chosen in 1919, 100 years before Grassley is set to assume the role early next year. Cummins served as Senate pro tempore in the 66th, 67th, 68th and 69th Congresses.

“This is an honor for me and the state of Iowa. The President pro tempore is one of a handful of offices specifically named by the Founders in the Constitution,” Grassley said.

“I may only be three heartbeats away from the Oval Office, but my heart is and always will be in Iowa and here in the U.S. Senate, where I’ve worked for the people of Iowa and our nation for 38 years. My commitment to representative government and the deliberative body of the U.S. Senate is stronger than ever. I’ll work to see that we uphold the Senate as a check on the executive and judicial branches of government, including our constitutional authority to provide advice and consent.”

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore (CC-By-SA 2.0)

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