Baucus, Hatch surprise Grassley

Seated in the committee room were dozens of current and former staffers, along with Grassley’s wife, Barbara, and lots of old friends from his nearly 30 years in the upper chamber.

Baucus, the committee chairman, spoke first and revealed to the audience the “real reason” that Grassley likes to hold the panel’s weekly meetings in Baucus’s office: free coffee. “Chuck often reminds me — in fact, daily, when we meet: ‘Max, I like coming here. Your coffee is free.’ ”

Baucus also thanked Grassley for being the kind of guy who “passes the airport test — that is, if you’re stuck in an airport with somebody, if you like the guy you’re sitting next to or not.”

Hatch, who will replace Grassley as the panel’s ranking member next year, told everyone how much he liked being “yelled at” by Grassley. 

“I still recall every time he has yelled at me,” Hatch said to a laughing audience. “We all understand the Grassley yell, don’t we? I mean, it’s something that I — I’ve really enjoyed through the years, between you and me.”

Grassley was legitimately surprised by the tribute, and before thanking everyone, he laughed and reminded the crowd, “I just wonder if you realize I was reelected, and I’m going to be around for a while.”