Hinson touts "game-changing" projects after opposing infrastructure bill

U.S. Representative Ashley Hinson tried to pull a fast one on Iowans this week.

After the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approved funding for two lock and dam projects along the Mississippi River, Hinson took credit for the spending. “We secured $829 million in federal funding to upgrade locks & dams along the Upper Mississippi River,” she tweeted on January 19, describing the projects as “game-changing for Iowa’s agriculture industry & our Mississippi River communities!”

The trouble is, Hinson voted against the bipartisan infrastructure bill that provided this “game-changing” funding.

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How forecasters see Iowa's 2022 Congressional races

As election year approaches, the leading national political forecasters have updated their analysis of the coming U.S. Senate and House elections. Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball revised its House ratings on December 16, while Inside Elections with Nathan Gonzales and the Cook Political Report did so on December 28 and December 29, respectively.

The consensus is that Republicans are favored to win most of Iowa’s Congressional races, but the one House district held by a Democrat is a toss-up.

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EMILY's List to play in Iowa; won't commit to positive Senate race

One of the leading Democratic-aligned political action committees endorsed three Iowa candidates this week. EMILY’s List, which backs pro-choice Democratic women seeking federal, state, or local offices, endorsed U.S. Senate candidate Abby Finkenauer on December 15 and U.S. House candidates Christina Bohannan and Liz Mathis in the new first and second Congressional districts on December 16.

The PAC endorsed U.S. Representative Cindy Axne for re-election in the third district in March.

This week’s announcements were no surprise, since EMILY’s List supported Axne and Finkenauer in their 2018 and 2020 U.S. House campaigns, and said in April that Senator Chuck Grassley was one of three Republicans the group planned to target in 2022 Senate races.

Backing from EMILY’s List helps candidates raise money through the organization’s large network of donors. Perhaps more important, it indicates the group is prepared to pay for advertising on behalf of endorsed candidates or against their opponents.

The big question is whether EMILY’s List will keep its messages positive before the June 2022 Senate primary, or also target Democratic rivals. I couldn’t get an answer from the group yesterday.

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Iowa Republicans say little about voting to shut down government

The federal government will stay open until at least February 18, after the U.S. House and Senate passed a continuing funding resolution on December 2. Only one House Republican crossed party lines to support the resolution, which mostly maintains spending levels agreed during the Trump administration. Iowa’s Representatives Ashley Hinson (IA-01), Mariannette Miller-Meeks (IA-02), and Randy Feenstra (IA-04) opposed the bill.

In the upper chamber, nineteen GOP senators joined Democrats to send the legislation to President Joe Biden. Notably, Iowa Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst voted against the bill, even though they had supported resolutions setting federal spending at these levels while Donald Trump was president.

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Grassley blocks bill on universal background checks

U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley on December 2 blocked Senate debate on a bill that would require background checks on all firearms sales. Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut requested unanimous consent to proceed with debating the bill, known as the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2021, following the latest horrific mass shooting at a school, which ended the lives of four Michigan high school students.

Everytown for Gun Safety explains that current federal law “requires a background check on a prospective gun buyer only when the seller is a licensed gun dealer, leaving all other sales—such as unlicensed gun sales negotiated over the internet—unregulated and with no background check required.” Under this proposal, “unlicensed sellers would meet their buyers at a licensed gun dealer, who would run a background check using exactly the same process already used for sales from their own inventory.”

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John Deere could have offered workers more

Only a week after United Auto Workers members ratified a new six-year contract with John Deere, the company announced record profits of $5.96 billion during the fiscal year that ended on November 1.

Tyler Jett reported for the Des Moines Register on November 24,

The company announced Wednesday that the new contract with the UAW will cost $250 million to $300 million. J.P. Morgan analyst Ann Duignan wrote in a note that she expects Deere to increase prices by 1.5% to offset its higher pay to workers.

That cost estimate appears to cover the immediate 10 percent raises and $8,500 ratification bonuses for each of Deere’s approximately 10,000 employees represented by UAW. The range of $250 million to $300 million would work out to between 4 percent and 5 percent of the company’s profits for the fiscal year that just ended.

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