Senate, House avert government shutdown: How the Iowans voted

This week Congress approved a continuing spending resolution to fund the federal government through the end of the current fiscal year on September 30. Iowa’s delegation split on this compromise, but not strictly along party lines. Details on the budget compromise and how the Iowans voted are after the jump.

The previous continuing spending resolution approved by Congress at the end of 2012 was due to expire on March 28. Erik Wasson and Pete Kasperowicz reported for The Hill on the continuing resolution, which authorizes $984 billion in spending through September 30.

Committee members were given latitude by House GOP leaders to work out a deal, so long as it did not reverse the $85 billion in sequestration cuts that went into effect on March 1.

Republicans and Democrats are still at loggerheads over how to replace those cuts, with the White House insisting that new tax revenue should be included and the GOP arguing that no new taxes should replace the spending cuts.

The government-funding measure, which lasts through Sept. 30, contains full, detailed appropriations bills covering the departments of Defense; Commerce; Justice; Veterans Affairs; Agriculture and Homeland Security, as well as for science agencies like NASA and military construction activities.

The rest of the federal government will operate on autopilot, and the bill does not include new funding to implement President Obama’s healthcare and financial reform laws. […]

The bill moves some money around within agency budgets to try to help them better deal with sequestration.

The original House bill ensured the Defense Department’s operations budget received $11 billion more to ensure the Pentagon remains battle-ready.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) and ranking member Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) negotiated dozens of smaller changes to the measure, none of which were objectionable to House GOP leaders.

The full Senate also adopted some amendments shifting money around, including one by Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) to prevent furloughs of meat inspectors.

Click here for more details on the Senate amendments to the continuing resolution.

The U.S. Senate approved this spending bill on Wednesday afternoon by 73 votes to 26. All but one of the “no” votes came from Senate Republicans, including Iowa’s Chuck Grassley. Senator Tom Harkin voted yes, along with most of his colleagues in the Democratic caucus.

In the House, both parties were split on the spending bill. It passed by a large margin of 218 votes to 109, but the roll call shows that Republicans split 203 in favor/27 opposed, while Democrats split 115 in favor/82 opposed.

Iowa’s two House Republicans, Tom Latham (IA-03) and Steve King (IA-04) both supported the spending resolution, as did Democrat Dave Loebsack (IA-02). Meanwhile, Bruce Braley (IA-01) was one of the no votes.

I can’t think of another bill that prompted Braley and Grassley to vote one way while Harkin, Latham, King, and Loebsack voted the other way.

I didn’t see any statements from Harkin or Iowa’s House members on the continuing resolution. UPDATE: Braley’s communications director Jeff Giertz provided this comment: “Rep. Braley voted against the continuing resolution because it does nothing about the damaging across-the-board sequestration cuts and kicks the can down the road when it comes to doing the hard work of reducing our debt.”

Grassley released this statement on March 20, complaining that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid did not allow a vote on an amendment he wanted for the continuing resolution:

For Immediate Release

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Grassley Protests Senate Leader Refusing Vote on Air Guard and Reserve Amendment

WASHINGTON – Senator Chuck Grassley said the refusal of the Senate Majority Leader to allow votes on amendments such as a bipartisan proposal to freeze funding for the transfer or retirement of Air National Guard and Reserve aircraft demonstrates what he’s been saying about how the way the Majority Leader is running the Senate prevents serious issues from being addressed and, in this case, to the detriment of Iowa.

The amendment had been introduced by Senator Max Baucus of Montana to the Continuing Appropriations Act to fund government operations until the end of the fiscal year.

“The Senate Majority leader used a tactic to prevent senators offering amendments without his permission,” Grassley said.  “When some Senators sought to offer amendments that other senators didn’t want to have to vote on, he made it clear that unless those senators consented to waive their right to offer those amendments, he would move to shut down all further debate and amendments pre-maturely, which is exactly what he did.  Unfortunately, all but one member of his party along with a few Republicans voted for the Majority Leader’s motion.  As a result, the Senate was prevented from considering the Air Guard and Reserve amendment offered by Senator Baucus.  It also prevented the consideration of a bipartisan amendment sponsored by Senator Moran to keep contract Air Traffic Control Towers, like the one in Dubuque, operating.”

Grassley went on to say that the tactics of the Senate’s Democratic leadership have reached unprecedented lengths to block the Senate from considering amendments, against more than 200 years of Senate tradition as a deliberative body.

“There is no Senate rule that says senators have a right not to have to take votes on difficult issues they would rather avoid,” Grassley said.  “On the contrary, that’s what the American people expect us to do.  While the Democratic Leader complains that Republicans don’t vote for his motions to cut off debate, calling that a filibuster and a delay tactic, the truth is that this bill probably could have been finished much sooner if the Senate had been allowed to consider amendments on an ongoing basis and vote them up or down right from the start.  It seemed for a while that the Majority Leadership was getting better about allowing an open process in the new 113th Congress, but it appears that this bad habit is proving hard to break.”

The Baucus amendment would have blocked the movement of Air National Guard Aircraft until after the completion of studies by the Government Accountability Office examining the cost of infrastructure in connection with moving Air National Guard and Reserve aircraft, the costs of recruiting and training in connection with moving these assets, the jobs lost and gained in connection with moving these assets and the Inspector General of the Department of Defense examining the cost of infrastructure in connection with moving Air National Guard and Reserve aircraft, the costs of recruiting and training in connection with moving these assets, and the environmental impact associated with moving these assets.

“Here, the Air Force hasn’t been willing to quantify the reason for its decision or dispute the fact that in a lot of areas, the Air National Guard is at least as capable as full-time personnel, and in some cases more capable, since Guard members serve over a long period of time and gain valuable experience, on top of the fact that over the long run the Guard can be much more cost effective,” Grassley said.  “So, cutting the Guard doesn’t necessarily make sense for achieving maximum savings and it may not make sense for national security, either.”

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