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Departing Sen. Harkin worries gridlock gives the White House too much power


Iowa Senator Tom Harkin sat down with Judy Woodruff to discuss his 40 years on Capitol Hill and why he thinks congressional gridlock is giving too much power to the executive branch.

Last Sunday marked the 37th and final “Harkin Steak Fry,” — an event held each year by Iowa Senator Tom Harkin to raise money for the state Democratic party, as well as his own re-election campaign. The steak fry is held just a few miles from Sen. Harkin’s birthplace and is frequently attended by prominent Democrats hoping to gain support in the key political state.

The morning after the event, PBS NewsHour’s Judy Woodruff spoke with Sen. Harkin at his childhood home, where he and his wife, Ruth, currently live.

Sen. Harkin looked back on his time in the Senate and the House, and noted how much had changed on Capitol Hill since he was first elected to Congress 40 years ago. Like many, Harkin is critical of Washington politicians’ failure to compromise.

“There was a lot more collegiality,” said Harkin of his early years in Congress. “It’s gotten a little hard edged now, and that’s just too bad.”

Harkin is also concerned that the constant gridlock will upset the balance of power in the federal government.

“The less we do and the less we’re involved in that legislative process, the more and more power and decision-making devolves to the President of the United States. I don’t think that’s healthy in the long run for either side.”

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