All four Iowans approve Harvey aid, debt ceiling deal in House

The U.S. House easily approved legislation on Friday to keep the Federal Emergency Management Agency from running out of Hurricane Harvey disaster relief money over the weekend. The same bill included a short-term debt ceiling hike and language to fund the federal government through December 8.

I was surprised to see all four of Iowa’s House members in the yes column (roll call). Both of our senators had voted against the Harvey aid package in the upper chamber. I expected Representative Steve King (IA-04) and possibly Representative Rod Blum (IA-01) to follow suit.

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Grassley, Ernst vote against Harvey aid/debt ceiling package

With only a few days left before the Federal Emergency Management Agency runs out of disaster relief funds, the U.S. Senate approved $15.25 billion in funding for those affected by Hurricane Harvey today. Eighty senators voted for the legislation, even though GOP lawmakers were said to be “furious” when President Donald Trump agreed yesterday to a Democratic proposal linking Harvey aid to a short-term debt ceiling hike and language to fund the federal government through December 8.

Iowa’s Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst were among the seventeen Republican senators who voted against today’s bill (roll call). In a statement enclosed in full below, Ernst said she supported a “clean” Hurricane Harvey relief bill, like the one U.S. House members approved on September 6 by 419 votes to 3. All four Iowans supported that bill: Republicans Rod Blum (IA-01), David Young (IA-03), and Steve King (IA-04), and Democrat Dave Loebsack (IA-02).

Carefully avoiding direct criticism of Trump, Ernst added in her statement, “Unfortunately a final deal was cut and while it includes initial relief funding, it also raises the debt limit and kicks the can down the road once again on our overall government spending levels. This is not the right way to legislate, and quite frankly, it is exactly what the American people are sick and tired of.”

I assume Grassley opposed the Harvey aid bill for similar reasons. At this writing, his office has not released a statement; I will update this post as needed with any public comment.

The Senate bill goes back to the House, where Democratic support is assured but a large number of Republicans will bolt over the debt ceiling hike and short-term spending resolution. I’ll be surprised if King or Blum votes for the bill; Young could go either way. UPDATE: All four Iowans voted for the revised bill in the U.S. House. I posted statements from King and Blum here.

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Pete D'Alessandro joins the Democratic field in IA-03

Promising to “fight for a bold agenda” that can “win the future,” Pete D’Alessandro became the sixth Democratic candidate in Iowa’s third Congressional district today. A veteran of many campaigns who is putting his name on the ballot for the first time, D’Alessandro is best known to Iowa activists as state coordinator for Bernie Sanders before the 2016 caucuses. His core issues echo some of the Sanders campaign’s central themes:

» Fight for a $15/hour livable wage
» Expand Medicare-for-all to ensure universal healthcare access
» Support tuition-free college
» Lead on addressing the global climate crisis

D’Alessandro is also promising to “do more than just stand against Donald Trump.” He developed his thoughts further on Democratic principles and tactics in a recent interview with Bleeding Heartland.

His campaign is on the web at PeteforIowa.com, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.

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Paul Dahl becomes third Democratic candidate in IA-04

Paul Elliott Dahl announced his candidacy for Iowa’s fourth Congressional district yesterday, describing himself as “a progressive populist wanting to serve Democrats, Independents, and Republicans in the United States House of Representatives with integrity, industry, and innovation.” A resident of Webster City, Dahl is a transit bus driver in Hamilton County. His previous work experience includes some adjunct teaching and fifteen years as either a librarian or library director. He promised to focus his Congressional campaign on seven issues: agriculture, campaign finance reform, education, environment, government spending, health care, and Social Security.

In the past month, J.D. Scholten and Leann Jacobsen launched their own campaigns against Representative Steve King. I asked Dahl about any previous election experience or Democratic Party activism, as well as why he decided to run for Congress, rather than for some other office where there aren’t already two Democrats running. (Dahl lives in Iowa House district 48, represented by Republican Rob Bacon.)

He replied via e-mail that he sought the Democratic nomination in what was then Iowa’s fifth Congressional district in 1994, when he was living in Humboldt County and working as a United Methodist pastor. He grew up in Black Hawk County, where his father was a United Auto Workers official and “quite active in Democratic politics.” Dahl sees himself having a fundraising advantage over the competition, since the counties where he has lived have a larger combined population than the counties where Jacobsen and Scholten are now based.

Ties to larger-population counties don’t automatically translate into campaign contributions. I would be surprised if Dahl is competitive with the other Democrats running against King on this front. Scholten has connections through sports all over the fourth district, and former candidate Kim Weaver has helped him raise money through her large e-mail list of supporters. Jacobsen has extensive business experience and is a past president of Technology Association Iowa. We’ll see when the campaigns file their third-quarter financial reports with the Federal Election Commission in October.

I’ve posted more background on Dahl below. You can find his campaign on the web at Dahlforthehouse.net, or on Facebook.

UPDATE: I didn’t remember that Dahl ran for governor in 2013, and he didn’t mention that short-lived campaign. John Deeth wrote about it at the time. Dahl didn’t qualify for the 2014 primary ballot.

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