# Federal Budget



Will Iowans' loyalty to Kevin McCarthy be rewarded?

UPDATE: All four Iowans received coveted committee assignments on January 11, which are discussed here. Original post follows.

The U.S. House spent most of last week mired in the longest-running attempt to elect a speaker since before the Civil War. Iowa’s four Republicans stood behind their caucus leader Kevin McCarthy from the first ballot on January 3 to the fifteenth ballot after midnight on January 7.

Iowa’s House delegation lacks any long-serving members; three are beginning their second terms, and Representative Zach Nunn was elected for the first time in 2022.

As House members receive committee assignments later this month, where the Iowans land could signal how much influence they have with GOP leadership.

Traditionally, members of Congress who publicly oppose their party’s leader are punished. But McCarthy’s team made so many concessions in search of votes for speaker that several Republican holdouts could be rewarded with prime committee assignments—arguably at the expense of those who were loyal to McCarthy throughout.

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Feenstra's stance on earmarks costs his district millions

The omnibus budget bill Congress just approved will fund dozens of infrastructure projects or services in Iowa during the current fiscal year, which ends on September 30, 2023.

But none of those earmarks (totaling tens of millions of dollars) will benefit communities or facilities in the fourth Congressional district. That’s because for the second year in a row, U.S. Representative Randy Feenstra declined to ask for specific projects to be included in the federal budget.

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Hinson tries to have it both ways on budget bill

U.S. Representative Ashley Hinson is at it again.

In January 2022, the Republican made news in Iowa and nationally when she took credit for “game-changing” projects in her district, despite having voted against the infrastructure bill that made them possible.

Hinson is closing out the year by bashing the “wasteful spending” in an omnibus budget bill, while boasting about her success in “securing investments for Iowa” through the same legislation.

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Grassley, Ernst oppose big spending bill but back some provisions

The U.S. Senate completed its work for the year on December 22, when senators approved an omnibus bill to fund the federal government through the end of the current fiscal year on September 30, 2023.

The bill allocates $1.7 trillion in federal government spending ($858 billion for the military, and $772 billion in non-defense spending). The Washington Post broke down the funding by appropriations area.

The legislation also provides $44.9 billion more in aid to Ukraine, and $40.6 billion for disaster aid. It changes some Medicaid rules, which will preserve coverage for many new mothers and children. It also includes some policies not related to federal spending, such as reforms to the Electoral Count Act, workplace protections for pregnant or breastfeeding employees, and a ban on installing TikTok on government-owned devices.

Eighteen Republicans joined the whole Democratic caucus to pass the omnibus bill. Iowa’s Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst were among the 29 Republicans who opposed the bill on final passage (roll call). But they supported some amendments added to the bill on December 22, as well as several GOP proposals that failed to pass.

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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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