Sen. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyThis week: GOP picks up the pieces after healthcare defeat GOP senators pitch alternatives after House pulls ObamaCare repeal bill Friends, foes spar in fight on Trump’s Supreme Court nominee MORE (R-Iowa) could become the first member who has not practiced law to lead the Judiciary Committee if the GOP wins back control of the Senate this year.
And he is pushing back on the idea he is unqualified for the job.
Braley contrasted that with his own record and described himself as "someone with your background, your experience, your voice."
A GOP majority in 2015 has become increasingly plausible as Democrats face a tough landscape, protecting their six-seat majority.
Braley later apologized for his remarks, but not before Grassley, the ranking member of the committee, pushed back hard in a statement later in the day. Grassley received a master’s degree in political science but did not attend law school.
“By the logic expressed on this recording, a trial lawyer shouldn't be involved in policy making about agriculture, or energy, or health care," a spokesman for Grassley said.
Grassley has been a member of the committee since he was first elected in 1980. His office touted his work to strengthen the False Claims Act and effort to curb class-action lawsuit abuse. His office also pointed to his work on whistleblower protection and his dogged work to expose the botched "Fast and Furious" gun-walking operation.
"Sen. Grassley’s work on the Judiciary Committee exposed the illegal gun-trafficking operation known as Operation Fast and Furious," the spokesman said in a statement. "It was Sen. Grassley’s persistence that pressured the current administration to provide Congress with the legal rationale for using drones on American citizens."
His office made sure to point out that he is only one of two farmers in the chamber.
Law, however, is the chosen profession in the Judiciary Committee, and the Senate in general.
Fifty-seven senators hold a law degree, according to the Congressional Research Service. The number of lawmakers with a law background has never dipped below 30 percent in congressional history, though it is down from its peak in the 1970s.
A review of past chairman of the Judiciary Committee finds that every leader has attended law school or passed the bar exam going back to its creation in 1816.
The record spans Sen. Dudley Chase who passed the bar in 1793 and led the committee in the 14th Congress to current chairman, Sen. Patrick LeahyPatrick LeahyDems get it wrong: 'Originalism' is mainstream, even for liberal judges Live coverage: Day three of Supreme Court nominee hearing Dems land few punches on Gorsuch MORE (D-Vt.), who received his degree from Georgetown University.
Only four current members of the committee do not hold law degrees: Grassley, Sens. Dianne FeinsteinDianne FeinsteinDems get it wrong: 'Originalism' is mainstream, even for liberal judges Human rights leaders warn against confirming Gorsuch Feinstein sees slipping support among California voters: poll MORE (D-Calif.), Al FrankenAl FrankenFriends, foes spar in fight on Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Lawmakers share photos of their dogs in honor of National Puppy Day Franken challenges witness endorsement of Gorsuch MORE (D-Minn.) and Jeff FlakeJeff FlakeWeek ahead in tech: FCC privacy rules on the ropes Overnight Regulation: Senate moves to strike Obama-era internet privacy rules Overnight Tech: Senate votes to eliminate Obama internet privacy rules | FCC chief wants to stay out of 'political debate' on fake news | Wikileaks reveals new CIA docs MORE (R-Ariz.).
Feinstein unknowingly offered her own defense of non-lawyers on the committee last year during a heated exchange with Sen. Ted CruzTed CruzHow 'Big Pharma' stifles pharmaceutical innovation AIPAC must reach out to President Trump Under pressure, Dems hold back Gorsuch support MORE (R-Texas) about her proposal to ban assault weapons, which ultimately failed.
"I'm not a 6th grader. I've been on this committee for 20 years," Feinstein said at the time after Cruz posed a long-winded questioned to her in which she accused him of lecturing her.
"I'm not a lawyer but after 20 years I've been up close and personal to the constitution. I have great respect for it," she continued.
Her words a year ago nearly mirrored those from Grassley's office Tuesday.
"Sen. Grassley has served on the Judiciary Committee since he was first elected to the Senate, and he’s got a strong record on the committee," his spokesman said.