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Iowa voting and reaction to the House Republican budget

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Mar 26, 2015 at 13:32:15 PM CDT

The U.S. House approved a draft budget yesterday with some drama along the way. Details on the important budget provisions and how the Iowans voted are after the jump.
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House still going after EPA's science advisors: How the Iowans voted

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Mar 17, 2015 at 19:20:00 PM CDT

Today the U.S. House passed a new version of a bill to change who can serve on the Environmental Protection Agency's scientific advisory board. As happened last year, the Iowans split along party lines.
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Steve King discusses "retribution" from House leaders over immigration stance

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Mar 11, 2015 at 07:26:03 AM CDT

According to Representative Steve King (R, IA-04), he and other House conservatives are facing "retribution" from House Speaker John Boehner after they insisted that any Homeland Security funding bill must include language against President Barack Obama's executive orders on immigration.
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Pass the popcorn: Rod Blum's former aide to run as an independent in IA-01

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Mar 09, 2015 at 21:10:00 PM CDT

James Lynch has a scoop tonight: a former field director for Representative Rod Blum's 2014 campaign plans to run as an independent candidate in Iowa's first district next year.
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Iowa Republicans vote against Amtrak funding

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Mar 06, 2015 at 07:00:02 AM CST

The U.S. House approved $8 billion in funding for Amtrak passenger rail on Wednesday. Keith Lang and Cristina Marcos reported for The Hill,

Since its inception in 1971, Amtrak has historically received about $1 billion per year from the government for operations and construction projects.

The measure would authorize about $982 million per year for the company's national network and another $470 million annually for its popular Northeast U.S. routes.

The bill, which would expire in 2019, sets another $300 million per year for construction on Amtrak routes in the rest of country and about $24 million per year for the company's inspector general.

All 184 Democrats present voted yes, including Iowa's Dave Loebsack (IA-02). But as the 316 to 101 roll call shows, more than 100 House conservatives voted against the Amtrak bill, including Iowa's Rod Blum (IA-01), David Young (IA-03), and Steve King (IA-04).

Young should know better. Currently, the only Amtrak routes across Iowa travel through the southern part of the state, calling at stations in the third and second Congressional districts. (King used to represent some of those southwest Iowa counties, but he hasn't since the last redistricting.) Anyway, Young has lived on the east coast long enough to understand how important passenger rail is for the U.S. transportation system.  

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Homeland Security funded through fiscal year: How the Iowans voted

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Mar 03, 2015 at 19:52:53 PM CST

A bill funding the U.S. Department of Homeland Security through September 30 is headed to the White House, stripped of language intended to undermine President Barack Obama's executive orders on immigration. Details on the voting and procedural maneuvers are after the jump, along with reaction from some of the Iowans in Congress.

Representative Steve King (IA-04) has repeatedly posted this image of a fish trap to convey his view that House Republicans played into a scheme to legalize what he calls Obama's "amnesty." In his press release, he asserted that "The White House is having a fish fry."

Steve King fish trap photo B_M6IkVW0AAfupp.jpg-large_zpsgg05jdou.jpeg

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Iowa reaction to Prime Minister Netanyahu's speech to Congress

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Mar 03, 2015 at 12:45:47 PM CST

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to members of Congress this morning, covering the expected ground about U.S.-Israeli relations and the danger posed by negotiating with Iran. Yesterday President Barack Obama defended his administration's policies and suggested that events had disproved Netanyahu's warnings about the 2013 agreement designed to halt Iran's nuclear program. Obama isn't planning to meet with Netanyahu during this Washington trip because of the Israeli election happening later this month.

At least 50 Congressional Democrats skipped today's speech, mainly because Republicans had invited Netanyahu to speak without working through White House channels. Furthermore, many people feel it's inappropriate for the U.S. Congress to appear to support one political party leader two weeks before an Israeli election. Speaking to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference yesterday, Netanyahu disingenuously said, "The last thing anyone who cares about Israel, the last thing that I would want, is for Israel to become a partisan issue." Which of course has been the entirely predictable outcome of this episode. For that reason, this Jewish blogger is among the roughly half of Americans who disapprove of Republican leaders inviting Netanyahu to speak to Congress.

All of the Iowa Republicans in Congress attended today's speech. I've enclosed some of their comments below and will update this post as needed. UPDATE: Representative Steve King (IA-04) put his reaction on YouTube.

Representative Dave Loebsack (D, IA-02) watched the speech from his office. I enclose below his statement, explaining his views on U.S.-Israeli relations and his reasons for staying away from the "spectacle." I support his position 100 percent. The Republican Party of Iowa accused Loebsack of insulting "America's ally" by not hearing the prime minister's thoughts. But Loebsack did listen to what Netanyahu had to say--from an appropriate distance. Incidentally, House Minority Nancy Pelosi commented that while listening to Netanyahu this morning, she was "saddened by the insult to the intelligence of the United States."

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Grassley, Ernst oppose Loretta Lynch for attorney general

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Mar 02, 2015 at 15:06:28 PM CST

U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch appears likely to be confirmed as the next attorney general after clearing the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, but both of Iowa's U.S. senators will oppose her confirmation. Senator Chuck Grassley voted against Lynch on the Judiciary Committee, saying she had not convinced him that she "will lead the department in a different direction" from outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder. In a statement I've posted after the jump, Grassley said that as "the nation's top law enforcement officer," the attorney general's job is "not to be the President's 'wingman.'" He then cited several news headlines about Lynch defending President Barack Obama's executive orders halting deportations for some undocumented immigrants.

Today Senator Joni Ernst confirmed that she will also vote against confirming Lynch. O.Kay Henderson reported for Radio Iowa,

"I have some very serious concerns with Loretta Lynch," Ernst says, "especially during her testimony when she had stated that she does uphold what the president has done and his decisions, especially when it comes to executive amnesty."

Late last week, Ernst and Grassley voted against the "clean" bill to continue funding the Department of Homeland Security, stripped of language opposing Obama's immigration policies.

Three Republican senators (Lindsey Graham, Orrin Hatch, and Jeff Flake) voted to forward Lynch's nomination from the Judiciary Committee to the full Senate. Assuming all 46 Democrats are present for her confirmation vote, she will need only one more GOP supporter to reach the 60-vote threshold.

UPDATE: Forgot to mention that Iowa's U.S. Representatives Steve King (IA-04) and Rod Blum (IA-01) signed a letter urging Senate Judiciary Committee members to reject Lynch. To my knowledge, Representative David Young (IA-03) did not sign the letter.

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How the Iowans voted on the Homeland Security funding bills (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Sat Feb 28, 2015 at 14:22:09 PM CST

Funding for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has been bogged down in a dispute over how far Congressional Republicans should go to overturn President Barack Obama's executive orders on immigration. The rest of the federal government is funded through the end of this fiscal year (September 30), under a deal the previous House and Senate members approved in December. But conservatives held up funding for Homeland Security to preserve leverage for the new Congress.

Last night, a partial shutdown of the department was averted when senators approved a one-week funding measure and House members followed suit. Whether a majority can be found next week for a longer-term bill remains unclear.

Iowa's own Steve King (R, IA-04) has been beating the drum for weeks urging conservatives not to give in and pass a "clean" Homeland Security funding bill. Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst have been less vocal about the matter, but they opposed the clean bill approved by a majority of senators yesterday (which didn't come to a House vote).

Follow me after the jump for details on where the Iowans stood on all the recent Congressional votes related to this standoff.

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IA-01: Monica Vernon campaigning against ... Steve King

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Feb 27, 2015 at 09:53:04 AM CST

An e-mail appearing to come from the sender "Stop Steve King" popped up in my in-box this week. I opened it, wondering whether a Democratic candidate was ready to announce already in Iowa's fourth Congressional district. King's last challenger, Jim Mowrer, raised a huge amount of money in 2013 and last year, partly through mass e-mails coming from "Stop Steve King" or "Stop Steve King 2014." Getting voters to read messages from political campaigns is increasingly challenging, and "clickbait" subject headings don't always do the trick. Of all Iowa Republicans, King is probably the most hated by Democrats.    

As it turned out, the February 24 "Stop Steve King" message wasn't from a potential challenger in IA-04. New Blue Interactive sent it on behalf of Monica Vernon's Congressional campaign in Iowa's first district. The e-mail urged recipients to sign a petition demanding that Congress fund the U.S. Department of Homeland Security with a "clean" bill, not including "anti-immigration amendments." Clicking through the embedded link takes you to a petition page titled, "Tell the Tea Party to stop playing games with our national security!" Vernon's opponent, Representative Rod Blum, is mentioned as standing in lock-step with King, House Speaker John Boehner, and "tea party" Republicans. I've enclosed screenshots of the mass e-mail and the petition after the jump.

Within the House GOP caucus, King has been one of the loudest voices demanding that Congress use the Homeland Security funding measure to make a point on immigration policy. Blum has indicated that he also supports using the Homeland Security budget bill to withhold funding from programs related to the President Barack Obama's executive orders granting temporary legal status to some undocumented immigrants. In Blum's view, holding the line on this matter "will not impact national security" because even after current funding expires at the end of February, "85 percent of the federal employees funded through Homeland Security are deemed essential and will continue work without pay until the funding issue is resolved."

So it seems fair for Vernon's campaign to lump Blum in with King and other Republicans engaging in brinksmanship over Homeland Security funding. Clearly "Stop Steve King" will catch the eye of many more Democrats than "Stop Rod Blum" or "Vernon for Congress." Whether this exercise in list-building will eventually translate into lots of new donors or volunteers for Vernon is anyone's guess.

Any comments about the race in IA-01 are welcome in this thread.

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Obama vetoes Keystone XL pipeline bill, with Iowa reaction

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Feb 25, 2015 at 19:20:00 PM CST

As expected, President Barack Obama vetoed a bill that would have forced approval of the Keystone XL pipeline. In his message to Congress, Obama said the bill "conflicts with established executive branch procedures and cuts short thorough consideration of issues that could bear on our national interest -- including our security, safety, and environment."  

Republican leaders will attempt to override the veto, but those efforts will almost certainly fail, since the bill didn't muster a two-thirds majority in either the House or the Senate. The next likely step is for Congressional Republicans to attach language on Keystone XL to some other "must-pass" bill. I am concerned that under those conditions, language on the pipeline would not be a deal-breaker for Obama.

All four Iowans in the U.S. House supported the Keystone XL bill, as did Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst. I haven't seen any official comment on the veto from Representatives Rod Blum (IA-01), Dave Loebsack (IA-02), David Young (IA-03), or Steve King (IA-04). After the jump I've posted the full text of the president's veto message, along with reaction from Grassley and Ernst. I will update as needed.

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Ravi Patel seeking Democratic nomination in IA-01

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Feb 17, 2015 at 15:59:40 PM CST

Entrepreneur Ravi Patel made his Congressional bid official yesterday in Iowa's first district. His campaign is on the web at PatelforIowa.com, on Facebook here and on Twitter here. Pat Rynard profiled Patel at the Iowa Starting Line blog; excerpts are at the end of this post. Patel has indicated that his campaign will "be data-driven and heavy on social media." His biggest challenges will be convincing voters that he's not too young at age 29 to do this job, and connecting with voters in northeast Iowa, since he grew up and spent much of his adult life in cities that are part of Iowa's second district.

At least three Democrats are likely to compete for the chance to face first-term Representative Rod Blum. The front-runner will be Cedar Rapids City Council member Monica Vernon, who finished second in last year's IA-01 Democratic primary. She was the first to announce in this race and has been endorsed by some prominent Iowa politicians. UPDATE: Former State Senator Jack Hatch, who picked Vernon as his running mate in last year's gubernatorial race, officially endorsed her for Congress in a February 17 e-mail. I've added that to the end of this post.

Former "Saturday Night Live" cast member Gary Kroeger seems ready to enter the race too. I had to laugh when the Des Moines Register's Michael Morain reported this past weekend that Kroeger may run for Congress. The Register's article did not mention that Iowa Starting Line broke that news way back on January 19.

Former Governor Chet Culver has said he is thinking about running for Congress in the northeast Iowa district as well.

Any comments about this race are welcome in this thread. UPDATE: Online ads for Patel's campaign are already running on various websites. At the end of this post, I've enclosed an ad that appeared on a page with Iowa weather information.  

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House extends some tax credits: How the Iowans voted

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Feb 17, 2015 at 08:55:00 AM CST

Before adjourning for a weeklong recess for Presidents' Day, the U.S. House of Representatives approved two bills extending some tax credits that had expired at the end of 2014. Follow me after the jump for key points of the legislation and how the Iowans voted.
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Five takeaways from Jeb Bush's first money drop on Iowa Republicans

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Feb 16, 2015 at 09:24:16 AM CST

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush made a strong statement on Friday when his political action committee announced $122,800 in donations to Republican parties and candidates in early presidential nominating states. The Right to Rise PAC gave $10,000 to the Republican Party of Iowa and $5,200 each to U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley and Representative David Young (IA-03).

The money Bush gave (and didn't give) in Iowa speaks volumes.

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Iowa Congressional voting roundup: Keystone XL and TSA "investigators"

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Feb 11, 2015 at 19:05:00 PM CST

This afternoon the U.S. House of Representatives approved the Senate-passed version of a bill that would authorize construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. As was the case last month, all four Iowans were part of the House majority that passed the bill by 270 votes to 152 (roll call). Dave Loebsack (IA-02) was one of 29 Democrats who voted yes today; his record on previous bills related to the pipeline is mixed. President Barack Obama has said he will veto the Keystone XL bill. The big question is what he will do if Congress includes similar language in other "must-pass" legislation.

Yesterday the House passed two bills related to the Transportation Security Agency. Members unanimously approved a bill "aimed at stopping the Transportation Security Agency from overpaying some of its workers to act as investigators, when they aren't really investigating anything," Pete Kasperowicz reported for The Blaze. The other bill, approved with only one dissenting vote, is intended to improve security at U.S. airports, in particular contingency plans for terrorist incidents.

Also today, House members including all four Iowans unanimously approved a bill to award "a Congressional Gold Medal to the Foot Soldiers who participated in Bloody Sunday, Turnaround Tuesday, or the final Selma to Montgomery Voting Rights March in March of 1965, which served as a catalyst for the Voting Rights Act of 1965." However, House Republicans rejected calls from Democratic leaders to quickly pass legislation that would reanimate the Voting Rights Act after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down part of that law in 2013.  

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Rand Paul's Iowa visit highlights, plus: should Rod Blum endorse?

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Feb 09, 2015 at 11:46:47 AM CST

U.S. Senator Rand Paul came to central Iowa this weekend. He drew more than 200 people to an event in Des Moines on Friday night, packed a restaurant in Marshalltown on Saturday morning, and took in the Iowa State men's basketball game that afternoon. It was Paul's first visit to our state since October, when he campaigned in eastern Iowa with Congressional candidate Rod Blum and Senate candidate Joni Ernst. Clips with more news from Paul's appearances are after the jump, along with excerpts from Shane Goldmacher's recent article for the National Journal, which depicted former Iowa GOP chair A.J. Spiker as an "albatross" for Paul's caucus campaign.

Before I get to the Rand Paul news, some quick thoughts about Representative Blum, who joined Paul for his Marshalltown event. Blum didn't endorse a candidate before the 2012 Iowa caucuses and told The Iowa Republican's Kevin Hall that he doesn't "plan to endorse anyone" before the upcoming caucuses, adding,

"I might at the very end. We need a strong leader. We need genuine, authentic leadership and I may rise or fall in my election in two years based on who this presidential candidate is."

I will be surprised if Blum doesn't officially back Paul sometime before the caucuses. The "Liberty" movement got behind him early in the GOP primary to represent IA-01. At that time, many Iowa politics watchers expected the nomination to go to a candidate with better establishment connections, such as Iowa House Speaker Kraig Paulsen or State Representative Walt Rogers. Paulsen eventually chickened out of the race, and Rogers bailed out a few months before the primary after overspending on campaign staff. Arguably, Blum owes Liberty activists for helping him scare off the strongest Republican competition. Without them, he might be a two-time failed GOP primary candidate, rather than a first-term member of Congress.

The case against Blum endorsing Paul before the caucuses is that doing so might anger GOP supporters of other presidential candidates. Even if Paul remains in the top tier by this time next year, 70 percent to 80 percent of Iowa Republican caucus-goers will likely prefer someone else. Blum will need all hands on deck to be re-elected in Iowa's first district, which is now one of the most Democratic-leaning U.S. House seats held by a Republican (partisan voting index D+5). It will be a top target for House Democrats in 2016.

Still, I think Blum would be better off endorsing than staying neutral. Most Republicans in the IA-01 counties will vote for him in the general election either way. By getting behind Paul when it counts, Blum would give Liberty activists more reasons to go the extra mile supporting his campaign later in the year, regardless of whether Paul becomes the presidential nominee or (as I suspect) seeks another term as U.S. senator from Kentucky. Besides, if Blum really believes that Paul's outreach to youth and minorities has the potential to grow the GOP, he should invest some of his political capital in that project.

What do you think, Bleeding Heartland readers?  

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House votes for more business input on federal regulations: How the Iowans voted

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Feb 06, 2015 at 17:28:53 PM CST

The U.S. House approved two more anti-regulation bills this week. On February 4, all the Republicans present and nine Democrats passed the "Unfunded Mandates Information and Transparency Act of 2015" by 250 votes to 173 (roll call). The following day, nineteen Democrats joined the whole GOP caucus to approve the "Small Business Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act of 2015" by 260 votes to 163 (roll call).

Iowa Republicans Rod Blum (IA-01), David Young (IA-03), and Steve King (IA-04) voted for both bills. Democrat Dave Loebsack (IA-02) opposed them both; he also voted against last year's version of the unfunded mandates bill.

The bill claiming to deal with unfunded mandates "would further require agencies to consult with private sector entities impacted by the proposed rules," Cristina Marcos reported. The bill approved on Thursday "would require federal agencies to calculate the direct, as well as indirect, costs of proposed rules."

I haven't seen any public comment on these votes from the Iowans in Congress, but after the jump I enclose open letters from leaders of the Coalition for Sensible Safeguards, an alliance of more than 150 "consumer, small business, labor, scientific, research, good government, faith, community, health, environmental, and public interest groups." They urged House members to reject the Unfunded Mandates Information and Transparency Act, because it "neither improves nor streamlines the regulatory process" and "would rob the American people of many critical upgrades to public health and safety standards, especially those that ensure clean air and water, safe food and consumer products, safe workplaces, and a stable, prosperous economy." The same coalition opposed the Small Business Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act, because it "would increase unnecessary and lengthy regulatory delays, increase undue influence by regulated industries and encourage convoluted court challenges."

Votes like this fly under the radar as media pursue more news stories that interest the "core demographic." That's unfortunate, because this kind of non-glamorous policy-making could affect millions of people. Few Iowans will learn that under the guise of "cutting red tape," our state's Republicans in Congress would jeopardize rules that are meant to protect the public interest. Loebsack deserves credit for standing up against these bad bills. Major corporations and industries already have too much influence over government rules.  

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House repeals Obamacare again: How the Iowans voted

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Feb 04, 2015 at 06:35:00 AM CST

Yesterday the U.S. House approved a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act by 239 votes to 186 (roll call). No Democrats supported the bill, and only three Republicans broke ranks with their party to oppose it. By some counts, it was the 56th time the Republican-led House has voted to repeal all or part of the 2010 health care reform law. Still, many newly-elected GOP lawmakers wanted a chance to weigh in after campaigning against Obamacare.

Iowa's four representatives split along the usual party lines, with Rod Blum (IA-01), David Young (IA-03), and Steve King (IA-04) voting yes and Dave Loebsack (IA-02) opposed. Loebsack has occasionally voted for Republican bills that reverse specific provisions of the Affordable Care Act, but he has never supported any of the broad repeal bills.

I enclose below statements released by King and Young on yesterday's vote.  During last year's campaign, Young suggested that Obamacare was "here to stay" and said he would be "at the table trying to fix" the law if elected to Congress. In yesterday's press release, Young advocated several GOP proposals on health insurance but added that Republicans "must continue to ensure coverage is provided to individuals even if they have preexisting conditions and that young people still struggling in the job market are able to continue to receive coverage under a parent's plan." King's official comments said nothing about preserving any aspects of the current law. He emphasized that he filed the very first Obamacare repeal measure on the day after House members approved the bill in March 2010.

I highly recommend Dana Milbank's entertaining account of the House debate on the latest bill. Excerpts are after the jump, but you should click through to read the whole Washington Post column.

UPDATE: According to Sahil Kapur,

The [Republican] party is divided on whether it should even attempt to craft a contingency health care plan of its own. Illustrating the dispute, Reps. Steve King (R-IA) and Jeff Duncan (R-SC) tried to propose an amendment that strips out the language calling for "replacement legislation."
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IA-01 Democratic candidate news roundup

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Jan 29, 2015 at 09:52:40 AM CST

Another Democrat is moving closer to a Congressional bid in Iowa's first district. The Daily Iowan reported several days ago that Ravi Patel "is assembling campaign operatives and meeting with influential donors in Eastern Iowa in preparation for the run." He is best known as principal and president of Hawkeye Hotels, a fast-growing company his parents established. Pat Rynard wrote on the Iowa Starting Line blog that Patel "has built connections from holding many fundraisers for Democratic candidates" and is "an entrepreneur involved in many startup businesses."

If he runs for Congress, Patel told the Daily Iowan that his campaign "would be data-driven and heavy on social media." His biggest potential weakness would probably be his youth (current age: 29). Iowans have nominated some young candidates who faced competitive primaries against more experienced rivals, most recently Ben Lange, the GOP's 2012 nominee in IA-01. But despite a lot of excitement on social media, State Representative Anesa Kajtazovic didn't make much headway with IA-01 Democratic voters, finishing fourth in the 2014 primary. Anecdotally, many Democrats liked Kajtazovic but questioned whether she had enough experience for the job she was seeking. Patel would also be competing against others who have more longstanding ties to the district. Although he owns a home in Cedar Rapids now, he has spent most of his life in either Burlington or Iowa City, which are located in the second Congressional district.

The front-runner in the Democratic primary remains Cedar Rapids City Council member Monica Vernon, who last week added her first labor union endorsement to the long list of sate legislators backing her second bid for Congress. After the jump I've posted the press release announcing the Teamsters Local 238 endorsement of Vernon. That local did not endorse in the 2014 primary to represent IA-01, but two other Teamsters locals backed the eventual winner Pat Murphy. Note: the press release mentions that Teamsters Local 238 has approximately 6,000 members. A representative for the union told me that between 2,000 and 2,500 of those members live in the IA-01 counties.

Other Democrats considering a bid in IA-01 include former Governor Chet Culver, former State Senator Swati Dandekar (who placed third in the 2014 primary), and former Saturday Night Live actor Gary Kroeger. His most recent blog post, which I've excerpted below, takes a quick look at the history of America's major political parties with a view to reducing the "vitriol in our disagreements." Kroeger posted today on Facebook that if elected to Congress, he would push for creating a national jobs program inspired by a non-profit foundation he profiled at his blog a couple of years ago.

Any comments about the IA-01 race are welcome in this thread. Republican blogger Craig Robinson pointed out recently that GOP incumbent Rod Blum will benefit tremendously from having U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley on the ballot in 2016.

It's also worth noting that at least three and perhaps as many as six battleground Iowa Senate races will be located within IA-01 next year. State Senator Jeff Danielson will seek a fourth term in Senate district 30, covering parts of Waterloo and Cedar Falls; he faced well-funded challengers in his last two re-election campaigns. State Senator Mary Jo Wilhelm won by just 126 votes in Senate district 26 in 2012. I expect the GOP to target that district, half of which is in IA-01 and half in IA-04. Republicans are less likely to mount a serious challenge against either State Senator Liz Mathis in Senate district 34 or State Senator Brian Schoenjahn in Senate district 32, but a surprise retirement would instantly make either of those races competitive. Meanwhile, Democrats are likely to target Senate district 28, where GOP State Senator Mike Breitbach won by only 17 votes in 2012. First-term Senator Dan Zumbach could also face a serious challenger in Senate district 48. After the jump I've posted a map showing all the Iowa Senate district lines. UPDATE: Perhaps I should also have mentioned Democratic State Senator Steve Sodders (SD-36) and Republican Tim Kapucian (SD-38), who will be up for re-election in 2016 as well in counties that are part of IA-01. I haven't heard of potentially strong challengers in either Iowa Senate district, but that could change before next spring.

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Iowans split as House approves bill on gas exports

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Jan 28, 2015 at 13:22:31 PM CST

The new Republican-controlled Congress continues to prioritize legislation desired by the oil and gas sector. Today the U.S. House approved by 277 votes to 133 a bill to "expedite the federal approval process for liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports," Timothy Cama and Cristina Marcos reported for The Hill.

Under the bill, the Energy Department would have 30 days to review an application, starting from when the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission completes its environmental review for a project. [...]

"There is no backlog or delay at the [Department of Energy] to speak of," said Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (N.J.), the top Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. "So legislation to impose an arbitrary 30-day deadline on DOE as suggested by the underlying bill is simply unnecessary."

The issue has taken on a new urgency in recent years as Republicans and some Democrats have started to see natural gas exports as a way to help eastern European countries avoid having to buy gas from Russia, thus weakening the power that Russia holds through its near monopoly on gas in the region. [...]

The Obama administration said Johnson's bill isn't necessary after a series of steps the Energy Department took last year in an attempt to streamline the review process.

Iowa Republicans Rod Blum (IA-01), David Young (IA-03), and Steve King (IA-04) all supported today's legislation. Although 41 Democrats joined the GOP caucus in voting yes, Dave Loebsack (IA-02) opposed the bill. He also voted against a similar bill House members approved last year. Loebsack recently was assigned a seat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

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