Laura Belin

Grassley, Ernst oppose keeping sanctions on Russian oligarch's companies

A resolution aimed at forcing the U.S. Treasury to maintain sanctions on three Russian corporations linked to a pro-Kremlin “oligarch” fell three votes short in the U.S. Senate on January 16.

Eleven Republicans joined the Democrats present to support the resolution, but Iowa’s Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst voted with the rest of the GOP caucus to defeat the measure. Although the vote was 57-42 in favor (roll call), Senate rules require 60 votes to clear this kind of procedural hurdle.

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Senate Republicans throw transparency out the window

Iowa Senate Republicans have abandoned longstanding rules that ensured subcommittee meetings would be open to the public and announced at least 24 hours in advance, and that committee chairs would allow votes on all germane amendments to bills.

Senate committees had operated under those rules since the 2005 legislative session, when each party had 25 senators. The rules remained standard practice throughout ten years when Democrats controlled the upper chamber and the first two years of a Republican majority following the 2016 elections.

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Don't make more than 52,000 Iowans wait until 2023 to vote

Governor Kim Reynolds asked Iowa lawmakers today to start the process of amending the state constitution to remove the lifetime ban on voting by those who have committed “infamous crimes,” which under current law are defined as all felony offenses.

A constitutional amendment would be the best long-term fix for an unfair system that disproportionately affects racial minorities and those lacking the funds to navigate the restoration process. So the Iowa House and Senate should certainly heed the governor’s call. But it’s difficult to get a constitutional amendment through both chambers of the legislature, and the soonest an amendment could be enacted would be November 2022.

Reynolds and state lawmakers can and should take immediate steps to allow tens of thousands of Iowans to participate in this year’s local elections, the 2020 caucuses, and the primary and general elections of 2020 and 2022.

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