# Congress



Iowa media let Grassley, Ernst dodge on nationwide abortion ban

Republican members of the U.S. House and Senate introduced companion bills this week that would ban abortion nationally after 15 weeks, with few exceptions.

The three Republicans representing Iowa in the lower chamber—Ashley Hinson (IA-01), Mariannette Miller-Meeks (IA-02), and Randy Feenstra (IA-04)—all co-sponsored the national abortion ban on the day the bill was introduced.

U.S. Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst dodged questions about whether they would support their colleague’s bill. And leading Iowa news organizations gave them exactly the coverage they wanted.

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Exclusive: Miller-Meeks used taxpayer funds for large radio ad buy

U.S. Representative Mariannette Miller-Meeks spent more than $63,000 from her office budget to pay for radio advertising highlighting top campaign issues for House Republicans. The expenditures, using the “franking privilege” available to all members of Congress, were legal during the five weeks Miller-Weeks bought the ads, taking advantage of a little-noticed provision allowing such taxpayer-funded media promotions.  

Bleeding Heartland’s review of Iowa radio station political files, archived on the Federal Communications Commission’s website, showed Miller-Meeks used franking funds to place 60-second commercials on at least eight Iowa radio stations in August or September.

Staff for Miller-Meeks did not reply to inquiries about the advertising campaign, which marked a departure from how the Republican allocated her office budget during her first year and a half in Congress.

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IA-04: Why won't Randy Feenstra debate Ryan Melton?

Every Iowa candidate seeking a statewide or federal office has agreed to at least one televised debate, with one exception: U.S. Representative Randy Feenstra. The Republican running for a second term in Iowa’s fourth Congressional district rejected an invitation from Iowa PBS without explanation. As a result, “Iowa Press” will interview Feenstra’s Democratic challenger Ryan Melton during the September 23 program, which had been set aside for the IA-04 debate.

Feenstra already backed out of a joint forum planned for the Clay County fair. According to Melton, the only joint appearance the incumbent agreed to was an event the Iowa Corn Growers Association hosted last week, which was not a debate and not open to the public.

In 2020, Feenstra debated his GOP primary opponents and Democrat J.D. Scholten during the general election campaign. What’s he worried about now?

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It's about time to fund the IRS

This column by Rick Morain first appeared in the Jefferson Herald.

U.S. Senate Democrats passed their omnibus Inflation Reduction Act on August 7 by 51 votes to 50, with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tie-breaking vote. They did so under so-called “reconciliation” rules, which require only a simple majority to pass bills related to appropriations, rather than the usual filibuster-blocking 60-vote margin.

The bill then went to the House, where Democrats approved it on a party-line 220 to 207 vote on August 12. President Joe Biden is expected to sign the bill this week.

The measure contains a number of provisions dear to the hearts of Democrats and many moderates: empowering Medicare to negotiate prices for several key drugs, capping Medicare recipients’ out-of-pocket costs at $2,000 a year, climate control incentives, extension of federal health care subsidies, a 15 percent minimum tax for most corporations whose profits exceed $1 billion a year, and other long-sought goodies.

By raising more money than the act will spend over a 10-year period, it will also enable the government to pay down some of the national debt by several hundred billion dollars. That hasn’t happened for the past 25 years.

A section of the act that particularly irritates Congressional Republicans – and many of their well-heeled donors – increases the funding of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) by $80 billion over the next 10 years. A little more than half of that increase will go to hire thousands of new agents to audit tax returns.

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Iowa environmentalists react to Inflation Reduction Act

Meaningful Congressional action on climate change seemed doomed in the 50-50 U.S. Senate after Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia tanked President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better proposal earlier this year. But on August 7, Vice President Kamala Harris cast the tie-breaking 51st vote to approve the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. All Republicans, including Iowa’s Senators Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley, voted against final passage.

Assuming the U.S. House approves the bill (a vote is scheduled for August 12), Biden is poised to sign into law “the single biggest climate investment in U.S. history, by far.” In addition to significant changes to the tax system and health care policy, the massive package includes $369 billion in spending aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and promoting clean energy.

According to summaries of the bill’s energy and climate provisions, enclosed in full below, the bill could help reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. However, the bill’s incentives for the fossil fuels industry—which were necessary to get Manchin on board—are troubling for many environmental advocates.

Bleeding Heartland sought comment from some Iowans who have been engaged in policy battles related to climate change and the environment.

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Contraception is also health care

Shawna Anderson: Birth control pills may have saved my life and also helped me to conceive.

When the U.S. House approved a bill in July to protect Americans’ access to birth control, 195 Republicans voted no. Those House members, including Iowa’s Representatives Ashley Hinson, Mariannette Miller-Meeks, and Randy Feenstra, opposed codifying not only my right to access family planning, but also my health care.

As a 43-year-old married mother of two and grandmother, I never thought I would see the day that I needed to defend access to any reproductive care, but here we are. After the U.S. Supreme Court overturned what I grew up hearing was the law of the land, Democrats are trying to ensure that people like me will have access to the health care we need.

A friend once told me we should call birth control hormone therapy, because that’s really what it is. Not only does it aid in family planning, but it can treat some medical issues. Let me tell you how birth control/hormone therapy may have saved my life and helped me to conceive.

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