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IA-04: Jim Mowrer out-raises Steve King for third straight quarter

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Apr 16, 2014 at 07:55:09 AM CDT

If this has ever happened before in an Iowa Congressional race, I'm not aware of the precedent: Democratic challenger Jim Mowrer has raised more money than incumbent Representative Steve King for the third straight quarter in Iowa's fourth district. Not only that, during the first three months of 2014, Mowrer's fundraising eclipsed King's by even more than we saw during the third and fourth quarters of 2013.

Details from the reports both candidates filed yesterday with the Federal Election Commission are after the jump.

UPDATE: The Iowa .Gif-t Shop weighs in. I really did laugh out loud.

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DCCC flags Jim Mowrer in IA-04 as "emerging race"

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 14:34:00 PM CST

Jim Mowrer, the Democratic challenger to Representative Steve King in Iowa's fourth Congressional district, is one of twelve candidates the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee considers to be "emerging races" in 2014. According to the statement from the DCCC, enclosed below, this category "highlights candidates and districts that are making themselves competitive by running smart campaigns which are becoming increasingly competitive." Mowrer's campaign out-raised the six-term Republican incumbent in both the third quarter and the fourth quarter of 2013. He is running as a "common-sense" candidate more in touch with the values of Iowans than King, who gets bogged down in "reckless partisan politics." Mowrer's official comment on today's news is after the jump.

Candidates in "emerging races" do not receive as much financial or logistical support from the DCCC as the top-tier "Red to Blue" candidates, but in past years a fair number of these races were bumped up to "Red to Blue" status during the general election period. IA-04 is an uphill climb for any Democrat, with 123,932 registered Democrats, 174,879 Republicans, and 174,235 no-party voters as of March 2014.

Speaking of King, he has long been one of the House Republicans progressives most "love to hate," and he is commonly quoted in fundraising appeals by a wide range of Democratic Party committees and Democratic-aligned organizations. But he does have limits. I noticed last week that someone came up with an anti-gay bill that was too stupid and bigoted even for King to co-sponsor. Some idiot lobbyist claims five House Republicans and one senator are interested in co-sponsoring a bill to stop gay athletes from playing in the National Football League. King commented,

"I don't support the idea that we advertise our sexuality, whatever it might be," said King. "So, therefore I don't support the idea of legislation addressing anyone's unidentified, unadvertised sexuality."

King presumably doesn't have a problem with heterosexuals "advertising" their sexuality by appearing in public with their spouses.  

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IA-04: Democratic challenger Jim Mowrer out-raises Steve King again

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 10:56:00 AM CST

In the past, I've pulled together highlights from Congressional candidates' quarterly financial reports in a single post, but with so many candidates running for Congress in Iowa, I've decided to separate the races. Year-end reports filed with the Federal Elections Commission show that for the second quarter in a row, Democratic challenger Jim Mowrer raised more money than six-term incumbent Representative Steve King (IA-04).

Follow me after the jump for details.

UPDATE: The Hill's Cameron Joseph and Alexandra Jaffe named King one of five Congressional incumbent "fourth quarter fundraising losers."

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2014 State of the Union discussion thread (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 19:48:27 PM CST

President Barack Obama addresses both houses of Congress tonight. The big policy news will be a new executive order requiring federal contractors to pay workers hourly wages of at least $10.10. The move could affect hundreds of thousands of workers. Last year the president proposed increasing the federal minimum wage to $9.00 per hour, but Senator Tom Harkin and other liberal Democrats argued for raising the wage to $10.10. Obama indicated his support for that wage level in November.

I will update this post later with highlights from tonight's speech and reaction from Iowa's Congressional delegation. Meanwhile, this thread is for any comments about the substance or the politics of the State of the Union address.

On a related note, I hope Treasury Secretary Jack Lew is right about the president refusing to negotiate with Congressional Republicans over raising the debt ceiling.

UPDATE: Click here for the full transcript of the president's speech, as prepared. I've added some Iowa reaction after the jump.

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House approves omnibus budget bill: How the Iowans voted

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Jan 16, 2014 at 13:50:00 PM CST

In recent years, Congress has funded the federal government mostly through a series of continuing spending resolutions. But yesterday, the U.S. House approved an omnibus budget bill that would fund most federal agencies through September 30 (the end of the 2014 fiscal year). The massive bill passed by an overwhelming margin of 359 votes to 67. All but three Democrats present voted yes, including Iowa's Bruce Braley (IA-01) and Dave Loebsack (IA-03). Republican Tom Latham also supported the bill, but Representative Steve King (IA-04) was among the 64 conservatives who voted no.

I've enclosed statements from Loebsack and King below. (I have not seen any public comment from Braley or Latham) Loebsack called attention to provisions he fought to include in the omnibus budget bill. King's statement on yesterday's vote is just one sentence long--the shortest comment I can ever remember receiving from his office.

Because the bill is so massive, it's hard to get a handle on the good news and bad news. Here's a summary of spending levels for various agencies. It looks like many domestic areas will be funded above "sequester" levels, including nutrition for Women, Infants and Children and some transportation programs. Some anti-environmental riders sought by Congressional Republicans were removed before the bill came up for a vote. Others made the cut, such as language supporting incandescent light bulbs and investments in overseas coal projects.  

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Braley, Loebsack back latest Republican anti-Obamacare bill

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 09:40:00 AM CST

As Republicans prepare to make "Obamacare" a central argument against any incumbents who voted for the 2010 health care reform law, many House Democrats are looking for political cover. So it was on Friday, when a third of the Democratic caucus voted for the latest Republican bill in the U.S. House targeting the law. Pete Kasperowicz reported for The Hill,

The one-sentence bill says that no later than two business days after any security breach on an ObamaCare site is discovered, "the Secretary of Health and Human Services shall provide notice of such breach to each individual." [...] The White House said it opposed the bill, arguing the government already has plans to tell people if their information has been compromised. [...]

Democrats said the GOP was trying to stir up fears about HealthCare.gov and the other enrollment sites by raising the idea that people's personal information could be stolen.

"There have been no successful security attacks on HealthCare.gov, and no one has maliciously accessed personal information," said Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.). "This is just another one of those scare tactics, and I just hope that my colleagues, both Democrats and Republicans, are not fooled by this."

The roll call on the "Health Exchange Security and Transparency Act" shows that Iowa Representatives Bruce Braley (IA-01) and Dave Loebsack (IA-02) were among the 67 House Democrats who joined all the Republicans present to approve this bill by a large margin. Neither called attention to the vote with a press release. After the jump I've posted the statement from Representative Steve King (IA-04), who has long been one of the most vocal critics of the Affordable Care Act. I didn't see any statement from Tom Latham (IA-03), who also voted for this bill.

Like the last anti-Obamacare measure Braley and Loebsack supported, this bill will neither become law nor insulate the Democrats from attacks during this year's campaigns for U.S. Senate or Iowa's second Congressional district.  

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Iowans split on party lines over bill to weaken hazardous waste laws

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 07:34:00 AM CST

Talk about lousy timing: just before a chemical spill made tap water unusable for 300,000 West Virginians, the U.S. House approved a bill that would "weaken the nation's hazardous waste laws and place American communities at increased risk of toxic exposure." The Reducing Excessive Deadline Obligations Act of 2013 (H.R. 2279) includes three bills House Republicans drafted last year. In a letter signed by 129 public interest groups, Earth Justice listed the key points of each bill and explained why the package would "threaten human health and the environment while protecting polluters from liability for the costs of toxic cleanups." I've posted an excerpt from that open letter after the jump. In a post for the Earth Justice blog last week, Lisa Evans called this bill "Kryptonite for Superfund" and "a con job of the highest order, allowing polluters to walk away without losing a penny, while taxpayers are left footing the bill."

Under its current leadership, the House has been called "the most anti-environmental House in our nation's history" because of the many bills passed that would curtail federal regulations and take power away from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Occasionally Iowa's two House Democrats have gone along with those efforts, but I was pleased to see that on January 9, Representatives Bruce Braley (IA-01) and Dave Loebsack (IA-02) voted against the latest effort to hamstring the EPA and for the Democratic motion to recommit this bill with instructions (often a last-ditch effort to kill legislation in the House). Iowa Republicans Tom Latham (IA-03) and Steve King (IA-04) lived up to their abysmal voting records on the environment by voting for the Reducing Excessive Deadline Obligations Act and against the motion to recommit.

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House wraps up work for the year: How the Iowans voted

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Dec 13, 2013 at 07:40:00 AM CST

The U.S. House adjourned for the rest of 2013 yesterday after approving several major bills. By a surprisingly large 332 to 94 majority (roll call), representatives approved The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013, a federal budget compromise worked out by Senate Budget Committee Chair Patty Murray and House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan. Most of the House GOP caucus supported the budget deal, including Tom Latham (IA-03). Bruce Braley (IA-01) and Dave Loebsack (IA-02) were among the 163 Democrats who voted for the budget deal. Steve King (IA-04) was one of the 62 Republicans who voted no because the agreement increased domestic discretionary spending. The 32 House Democrats who opposed the deal objected to the fact that it did not include an extension of unemployment benefits, did not reverse more of the "sequester" federal spending cuts, and increased federal worker contributions to their pensions.

Also yesterday, House members passed by voice vote a one-month extension to most federal agricultural programs, giving a conference committee more time to work out a deal on a long-term Farm Bill. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said the upper chamber won't pass any more short-term farm bill extensions, but he'll probably have to backtrack now to prevent farm programs from expiring on January 1.

Finally, the House approved by 350 votes to 69 a compromise on the defense authorization bill. All four Iowans voted for the National Defense Authorization Act, negotiated informally by House and Senate Armed Services Committee leaders after the Senate Republicans blocked a vote on the defense authorization bill before Thanksgiving. I need more time to read up on what's in the final compromise, so will cover the details of the defense authorization bill in a future post.

After the jump I've enclosed comments on yesterday's votes from the Iowans in Congress and some of the candidates for U.S. House and Senate, where available. UPDATE: Added more comments below. However, Steve King has uncharacteristically not released a statement explaining his vote on the budget compromise. His office did not respond to my request for comment or to the Sioux City Journal's Bret Hayworth.

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Weekend open thread: Outrages of the week

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Nov 17, 2013 at 08:05:00 AM CST

What's on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? This is an open thread. Here are a few links to get a conversation started.

A Polk County district court ruling related to one of Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz's pet projects called attention to the fact that Schultz was in Switzerland for the American Swiss Foundation's 24th annual Young Leaders Conference, a weeklong event. Whether the secretary of state should attend a foreign junket like this at any time is debatable. But it's ridiculous for him to have planned to be out of town when Iowa's 99 county auditors were gathering in Des Moines to discuss election-related issues. The Iowa Democratic Party and the only declared Democratic candidate for secretary of state blasted Schultz. I've posted their comments below, along with the official defense from the Iowa Secretary of State's spokesman.

Speaking of Schultz's pet projects, here's some important news from last month: the federal judge who wrote a key ruling upholding Indiana's voter ID law now believes he got that case wrong.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced on Friday that it is proposing to alter the Renewable Fuel Standard on how much ethanol must be blended into gasoline. The announcement upset Iowa elected officials from both parties. After the jump I've posted statements from Governor Terry Branstad, Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds, and all of the Iowans in Congress except for Representative Tom Latham (R, IA-03), who has not commented on this issue to my knowledge.

The Associated Press reported this week on how the push to produce corn-based ethanol has damaged the environment in Iowa and elsewhere.

One last outrage: Will Potter reported for Mother Jones about a case that "could make it harder for journalists and academics to keep tabs on government agencies." The FBI is going to court to prevent its "most prolific" Freedom of Information Act requester from accessing hundreds of thousands of pages of documents.

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IA-Sen, IA-02: Braley, Loebsack run for the hills on health care reform (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Nov 15, 2013 at 18:50:23 PM CST

All four Iowans in the House of Representatives voted today for the Keep Your Health Plan Act "that allows insurance companies to offer health plans that were cancelled for not meeting new requirements under ObamaCare." Bruce Braley (IA-01) and Dave Loebsack (IA-02) were among the 39 Democrats who crossed party lines to support the bill, joining Tom Latham (IA-03), Steve King (IA-04), and almost all the Republicans present.

Braley and Loebsack both voted for the Affordable Care Act in 2010 and have opposed most of the Republican bills to repeal the health care reform law. For instance, Iowa's representatives split on party lines when the House voted in August a bill "to prevent the IRS from enforcing any aspect of ObamaCare," and when the House voted in July to delay the individual mandate to purchase health insurance.

However, occasionally Braley and/or Loebsack have gone along with GOP efforts to alter the Affordable Care Act. In 2012, Loebsack voted with Republicans to repeal a 2.3 percent tax on medical device manufacturers. In July of this year, Braley joined Republicans to pass a bill delaying the employer mandate to provide health insurance for one year. (President Barack Obama had already announced his decision to delay the employer mandate, despite the financial and political costs of doing so.)

Given the media firestorm over some Americans losing the health insurance plans Obama promised they could keep, I'm not surprised Braley and Loebsack ran for cover today. Both had narrow escapes in 2010 and may face tough election campaigns in 2014.

After the jump I've enclosed comments from some of the Iowans in Congress on today's vote and on the president's administrative "fix" that may allow some people to keep insurance policies that would have been cancelled for not meeting ACA requirements. (Few Iowans need this fix, because Wellmark and most other health insurance providers were already allowing Iowans to keep their individual policies for another year.) I also enclosed details on why Obama has threatened to veto the bill that passed the House today. Senator Tom Harkin is determined to prevent it from passing the U.S. Senate.

UPDATE: Added a statement from Latham below. Also, the Koch-funded group Americans for Prosperity wasted no time in signaling that they will attack Braley on "Obamacare" regardless of this vote. I doubt he's gained any political protection for the U.S. Senate race.

SECOND UPDATE: Added new comments from Braley.

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Mid-week open thread, with belated Veterans Day links

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Nov 13, 2013 at 19:45:00 PM CST

Iowa wildflower Wednesday is on hiatus, but here's an open thread. What's on your mind, Bleeding Heartland readers?

I didn't manage to post a Veterans Day linkfest on Monday, but I was interested in this article about the "long decline of veterans in Congress."

Military service was once almost a prerequisite for service in Congress. Veterans comprised more than three-fourths of both the House and Senate at one point last century. Since then, their membership has declined to about 20 percent of both chambers.

Of the Iowans now serving in Congress, only Senator Tom Harkin is a veteran. Several Iowa candidates for federal office have served in the military, though, including Steve King's Democratic challenger Jim Mowrer and Republican U.S. Senate hopefuls Sam Clovis and Joni Ernst.

The suicide rate among U.S. veterans has long been a national disgrace. The Military Suicide Research Consortium provides information on the problem and resources for those needing help.

Speaking of national disgraces, roughly 900,000 veterans who rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly known as food stamps) saw their food assistance benefits cut at the beginning of November. The SNAP cuts King and other House Republicans are demanding in conference committee negotiations over the farm bill would deny federal food assistance to approximately 170,000 low-income veterans.

Representative Tom Latham fell for some Veterans Day-themed satire about MSNBC host Chris Hayes. A good reminder that deleted tweets and Facebook posts never truly disappear.  

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Iowans split on symbolic debt ceiling votes

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Nov 04, 2013 at 18:55:00 PM CST

Little-known fact: the deal that ended the government shutdown in mid-October did not technically involve a Congressional vote to raise the country's debt ceiling. Rather, it allowed President Barack Obama to suspend the debt ceiling until February 7, unless both chambers of Congress passed motions disapproving of the action. The compromise enabled Republicans to put themselves on record opposing any further increase in the debt limit without pushing the U.S. into default. As Susan Davis explained in USA Today, even if a disapproval motion cleared the House and Senate, the president "would presumably veto it, putting the burden on Congress to find veto-proof majorities to override it - a near-impossible outcome [...]."

Last week both chambers considered identical disapproval resolutions, drafted by Republicans. Supporters of the resolution asserted that they were not voting for default, just trying to send a message that "We have to get our debt under control." When the Senate considered the resolution on October 29, all 45 Republicans present voted yes, including Iowa's Chuck Grassley. But it failed to pass as all 54 members of the Democratic caucus voted no, including Iowa's Tom Harkin.

The House took up the resolution the following day and passed it by 222 votes to 191 (roll call). Only a few representatives crossed party lines on the vote. Iowa's House members split as one would expect: Republicans Tom Latham (IA-03) and Steve King (IA-04) went on record against "the President's exercise of authority to suspend the debt limit," while Bruce Braley (IA-01) and Dave Loebsack (IA-02) opposed the resolution. I have to laugh at Latham's faux-statesmanship, voting for the deal that averted default before turning around and voting against the presidential action that averted default.

I'm with those who would make this phony "disapproval" exercise a permanent replacement for Congressional votes to raise the debt ceiling. A symbolic gesture is a small price to pay to avoid future hostage-taking scenarios.  

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Weekend open thread: Jefferson-Jackson Dinner edition

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Nov 03, 2013 at 01:13:58 AM CDT

What's on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? This is an open thread.

The Iowa Democratic Party's Jefferson-Jackson Dinner was an entertaining affair. I've posted some highlights after the jump. The "news" of the evening was Senator Chuck Schumer of New York endorsing Hillary Clinton for president, but for my money that wasn't the most interesting part of his speech.

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Ted Cruz Iowa prospects discussion thread

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Oct 28, 2013 at 16:39:47 PM CDT

Judging from the reception he got in Des Moines and Le Mars on Friday and Saturday, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas is still a hot property for conservative Iowa Republicans. I've posted links and highlights about Cruz's latest visit after the jump. Any comments about his impact on Iowa politics or his potential as a presidential candidate are welcome in this thread.

I see Cruz as a showboater who will peak long before the 2016 Iowa caucuses, as people tire of his over-promising. Granted, many Republicans savor the fantasy that everything would go their way if the evil establishment only listened to "constitutional conservatives" like Cruz. Nevertheless, I expect Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker will have a winning message during the next caucus campaign. He can claim to have delivered on more conservative dreams than members of Congress like Cruz, Senator Rand Paul, or Representative Paul Ryan. I would love to be wrong and see the GOP nominate Cruz for president, though.

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Iowa Congressional 3Q fundraising roundup

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Oct 16, 2013 at 08:15:00 AM CDT

All Congressional candidates had to file third-quarter fundraising reports with the Federal Election Commission by October 15. After the jump I've posted details on the fundraising by Iowa's candidates for U.S. House.

The Senate reports are not online yet at the Federal Election Commission's website, so those numbers will come later.

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Latest Iowa Congressional voting, comments on the budget and debt ceiling

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Oct 15, 2013 at 08:10:00 AM CDT

Two weeks into the partial federal government shutdown, U.S. Senate leaders appear close to a deal to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling while a new joint budget committee negotiates "a replacement for the automatic spending cuts known as sequestration." After the jump I've posted details on last week's Congressional votes related to funding the federal government and preventing a possible default.

Although Iowa is reportedly the state least affected by the shutdown, because we lack national parks and have few military facilities, thousands of Iowans in the National Guard are still without paychecks. Thousands more who receive benefits through the Women, Infants and Children nutrition program will suffer if the shutdown extends into next month, because WIC is only funded through October.

The lack of a new farm bill arguably affects more Iowans directly than the shutdown does. The latest temporary extension of federal farm programs expired on September 30. At the end of this post, I've included some news and comments on efforts to pass a comprehensive farm bill.

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IA-03, IA-04: Generic Democrats lead Latham, King in PPP polls

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Oct 07, 2013 at 07:15:00 AM CDT

New surveys by Public Policy Polling indicate slight leads for an unnamed Democratic candidate against Republican incumbents Tom Latham (IA-03) and Steve King (IA-04). The generic Democrat's lead over Latham increased after respondents were told Latham "supported the government shutdown."

UPDATE: Added a press release from King's challenger Jim Mowrer at the end of this post.

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More Iowa Congressional voting and reaction to the government shutdown

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Oct 04, 2013 at 12:19:06 PM CDT

It's time for a new post on how Iowa's representatives in the U.S. House and Senate are handling the ongoing shutdown of non-essential federal government operations. (Click here for details on Congressional votes and Iowa political reaction up to October 1.)

Thousands of Iowans who work for the federal government or serve in the National Guard still have no idea when they'll receive their next paycheck. The best news I've heard all week is that an estimated 66,000 Iowa women and children who receive benefits through the WIC program will get their checks for October, at least.  

Although there has been no progress toward an agreement on a continuing spending resolution, I've noticed one big change in Iowa Congressional voting during the last few days. Whereas Representatives Bruce Braley (IA-01) and Dave Loebsack (IA-02) were sticking with most of their fellow Democrats in earlier votes on federal spending, this week both Braley and Loebsack have joined House Republican attempts to fund the federal government in bits and pieces. Follow me after the jump for more details.

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Iowa Congressional voting and comments on the government shutdown

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Oct 01, 2013 at 10:38:19 AM CDT

The 2014 fiscal year began at midnight. Congress is ringing in the occasion with the first partial federal government shutdown since the mid-1990s. The U.S. House and Senate have been unable to agree on a continuing spending resolution, because most House Republicans insist on defunding or delaying the 2010 health care reform law as a condition of funding most government operations.

Details on Iowa Congressional votes on budget resolutions are after the jump, along with comments from all the Iowans in Congress and many of the candidates for U.S. House or Senate.

Authorization for most federal agricultural programs also expired at midnight, and it's not clear when Congress will be able to agree on a short-term extension or a new five-year farm bill. Toward the end of this post I've enclosed some comments on the failure to pass a farm bill.

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Ten reasons Latham and King are wrong about food assistance funding

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Sep 23, 2013 at 14:44:09 PM CDT

The U.S. House voted mostly along party lines on September 19 to cut the leading federal food assistance program by $39 billion over the next decade. Iowa's four representatives split in the expected way: Republicans Tom Latham (IA-03) and Steve King (IA-04) supported the "Nutrition Reform and Work Opportunity Act," while Democrats Bruce Braley (IA-01) and Dave Loebsack (IA-02) voted no. In fact, the roll call shows that not even the bluest Blue Dog Democrat supported this bill.

After the jump I've posted comments on this vote from some of the Iowans in Congress, along with the latest Iowa and national figures on food insecurity and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as "food stamps."

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