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Grassley tries to explain the lack of women on key Senate panel

Why are there no Republican women on the Senate Judiciary Committee? Its GOP chairman had an answer -- which he quickly needed to clarify.
Senator Charles \"Chuck\" Grassley, a Republican from Iowa, listens to a question during a Bloomberg Politics interview in Des Moines, Ia., Feb. 1, 2016. (Photo by Bloomberg/Getty)
Senator Charles \"Chuck\" Grassley, a Republican from Iowa, listens to a question during a Bloomberg Politics interview in Des Moines, Ia., Feb. 1, 2016. 

As the fight over Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination neared its end, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) did not do his reputation any favors.

On Friday morning, for example, for reasons that weren't at all clear, Fox Business Network Maria Bartiromo asked the Iowa Republican, in reference to progressive activism surrounding Kavanaugh, "Do you believe George Soros is behind all of this, paying these people to get you and your colleagues in elevators or wherever they can get in your face?"

Grassley replied, "I have heard so many people believe that. I tend to believe it."

Later that day, while hailing Kavanaugh as "the most qualified Supreme Court nominee" in the history of the United States -- an assertion that's difficult to take seriously -- Grassley argued, in a matter-of-fact sort of way, "The multitude of allegations against him have proven to be false." That's not even close to being true. One may question Dr. Christine Blasey Ford's assault allegations, for example, but to insist that her claims have been proven false is wrong.

But late Friday, the Wall Street Journal had this report:

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) predicted that there would be more Republican women on his panel next year, after suggesting that the panel's workload was a deterrent."It's a lot of work -- maybe they don't want to do it," Mr. Grassley told reporters. "My chief of staff of 33 years tells me we've tried to recruit women and we couldn't get the job done."

It's worth emphasizing that in the history of the Senate Judiciary Committee, a total of zero Republican women have ever served on the panel. It's one of the reasons the Committee's GOP members brought in a woman to question Dr. Christine Blasey Ford during her testimony two weeks ago.

There are four women currently on the Judiciary Committee. They're all Democrats. By all appearances, they don't appear to mind doing "a lot of work."

Evidently, Grassley realized his original comments on the subject may have been problematic, so the Iowan went back to reporters to straighten things out.

"We have a hard time getting men on the committee," he said. "It's just a lot of work whether you're a man or a woman, it doesn't matter."When asked why it was difficult to attract senators to the panel, Mr. Grassley said he personally did not understand the sentiment."Well, I love it. I've been on it 38 years," he said, predicting that the GOP female ranks would increase in January.

In full retreat, Grassley seemed eager to tout feminist principles, arguing that women senators "probably work harder" than the chamber's men, and adding that if five of the Supreme Court's nine members were women, it would "be about right."