CEDAR RAPIDS — Kim Jong Un hasn’t launched any missiles for two months. But Sen. Chuck Grassley doesn’t see that as a sign the threat posed by North Korea leader has diminished.
“The only way I can answer your question is if I was in the mind Kim Jung Un and know whether he is willing to take chances,” Grassley told employees of 7G Distributing in Cedar Rapids on Monday in response to a question.
Much of the information he receives suggests Kim wants to “rattle cages and not do anything, but I don’t know for sure,” Grassley said.
The threat of a missile attack on the United States mainland doesn’t appear to be imminent because North Korea doesn’t have the capability to deliver a warhead, Grassley said, “but he’s headed in that direction. Is it just a year or two years or three years?”
The Iowa Republican welcomed President Donald Trump’s designation Monday of North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism. The action will trigger more sanctions on North Korea, Trump said.
Grassley agreed that economic sanctions, if other nations join the United States, can pressure North Korea to reduce its threats of aggression.
Grassley also told an employee who asked how seriously the threat should be taken that while the military has the ability to retaliate, “those (North Korean) missiles are only 30 miles from Seoul and 20 million people.”
“You can take out a lot of those weapons, but you can’t take them all out,” he said. “There’s going to be a lot damage done.”
Grassley’s 30-minute question-and-answer session with about 35 of 7G’s 110 Cedar Rapids-based employees followed a tour of its beer-distribution warehouse. The company, which services 2,000 accounts across 14 counties, has another 100 employees in Davenport and Dubuque.
Current sales are more than 5.6 million cases a year.
Grassley also fielded several questions about tax reform efforts in Congress and predicted the Republican-sponsored package may be approved in the Senate with a few Democratic votes.
The proposal could result in tax savings of about $1,500 a year for middle-income families, Grassley said. Those families could realize another $1,100 in higher wages as a result of their employers’ tax savings, he added.
He confirmed another employee’s fears that cooperation between the two major political parties has waned during the 37 years Grassley has been in the Senate.
However, “it might not be as bad as you think” because controversy, not cooperation, makes news. He reminded them that the Judiciary Committee he chairs approved 31 pieces of legislation in the 2015-16 session, with 18 of them approved by a Republican-controlled Congress and signed by a Democratic president.
But that same level of cooperation is unlikely to be seen in the Judiciary Committee’s confirmation of the president’s nominees for federal courts.
“There will be some fur flying next week,” Grassley predicted.