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Iowa Senators reflect on era of bipartisanship under President George H.W. Bush

Image Courtesy: The Harkin Institute

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley and retired Senator Tom Harkin both worked with President Bush on a number of issues. Even though Senator Harkin is a Democrat. It all started in 1985 when then-Vice President Bush swore Senator Harkin into office. Years later, the two men worked together, as a Democrat and Republican, on a landmark bill that addressed a major piece of civil rights in Iowa. The 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act required the nation to make virtually everything more accessible to Americans with special needs. From the entertainment world, to the retail sector and into the workplace, the bill was designed to provide equal protection and opportunity for those living with a disability.

Senator Harkin, who retired in 2015, called it his proudest day in Congress. In a statement, Harkin said: “From his heroic service in WW II through his Presidency and to now, George H W Bush was the finest example of a true public servant. Decency, civility, intelligence, and patriotism were the guideposts of his life. His words ‘let the shameful wall of discrimination come tumbling down,’ when he signed the Americans with Disabilities Act echo throughout a more inclusive America for all. It was an honor for me to have worked with President Bush in getting this bill through Congress and signed into law. He never wavered in his commitment to get this law passed.”

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, now the longest serving Republican member in the Senate right now, also looks back on those times with fondness and optimism it can come back. "Although I have to admit, those of us who are in public service have to do a better job of accomplishing that job ourselves."

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