Roughly 170 students at Maquoketa Valley High School were given a rare opportunity to address a U.S. congressman face to face.

On Wednesday morning, Jan. 17, Sen. Charles Grassley answered questions and gave insight before the student body, a session that lasted roughly an hour. Afterward, Grassley said he felt the students prepared “well informed” and “well stated” questions on topics ranging from gun control to health care.

Near the start, he explained his reason for voting against a fiscal cliff deal on Jan. 1, stating the deal increased taxes (see video).

“There can’t be much debate about whether or not you ought to increase taxes,” Grassley said. “…You can’t increase taxes enough to reduce the deficit so you’ve got a spending problem. I voted against it because it didn’t do anything on the expenditure side.”

The inquisitive students were part of teacher Dan Cassutt’s government class. Cassutt said he was contacted by the senator a week ago. In the days following, he prepared students for how to develop educated questions with etiquette.

Read this story and more in Wednesday’s Dyersville Commercial, Jan. 23.