House approves Farm Bill with food assistance cuts: How the Iowans voted

The U.S. House approved a five-year farm bill on June 21 by 213 votes to 211, with support from Iowa GOP Representatives Rod Blum (IA-01), David Young (IA-03), and Steve King (IA-04). Every Democrat present, including Representative Dave Loebsack (IA-02), voted against the bill, as did 20 Republicans (roll call).

A conservative bloc had voted down the same legislation in May, seeking to force House Speaker Paul Ryan to schedule a vote on an immigration bill drafted by Robert Goodlatte. The tactic worked, in the sense that House leaders brought Goodlatte’s bill to the floor shortly before the farm bill. However, the immigration measure lacked the votes to pass the chamber.

According to Politico’s Catherine Boudreau, the legislation was “the first farm bill to pass either chamber with only one-party support,” because “Democrats revolted over its proposed changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, more commonly known as food stamps.”

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Rod Blum, David Young, and Steve King vote to gut Wall Street regulations

Iowa’s three Republicans in the U.S. House joined almost all of their GOP colleagues today to approve a bill that would “devastate financial regulation.” The Financial Choice Act would “dismantle” many provisions in the 2010 banking reform law known as Dodd-Frank. It passed by 233 votes to 186 (roll call), with Representatives Rod Blum (IA-01), David Young (IA-03), and Steve King (IA-04) among the 233 Republicans who voted yes. Just one Republican joined 185 House Democrats, including Iowa’s Dave Loebsack (IA-02), to oppose the bill.

House Speaker Paul Ryan is spinning this bill as a rescue of “Main Street America,” but its key beneficiaries would not be small banks, and its provisions could make millions of consumers and investors into sitting ducks for Wall Street abuses.

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Weekend open thread: Alarming ties between Trump and Russia edition

President-elect Donald Trump continues to assemble a cabinet full of people “who have key philosophical differences with the missions of the agencies they have been tapped to run.”

But arguably, the scariest news of the week was the political reaction to the Central Intelligence Agency assessment that it is “quite clear” Russia intervened in the U.S. elections with the goal of electing Trump.

Despite what one retired CIA officer described as a “blazing 10-alarm fire,” only four Republican senators have taken up the call for a bipartisan investigation of Russian interference in U.S. elections. For his part, Trump dismissed the CIA’s findings as “ridiculous,” while members of his transition team discredited the agency and leaked news that Trump will appoint a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin as secretary of state.

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The Waterloo Police Department will face no pressure from Trump's administration

The city of Waterloo has agreed to pay $2.75 million this year to settle a wrongful death case and four other lawsuits over excessive uses of force by police. Other officers’ actions toward African-Americans led to an acquittal in a murder trial and will likely inspire more lawsuits. The series of scandals nearly cost Police Chief Dan Trelka his job in September.

After ignoring experts’ advice for many months, Trelka insists he is trying to improve relationships between his department and the African-American community in Waterloo.

Let’s all hope he is sincere, because under Donald Trump’s administration, police misconduct and especially excessive force against black people will face a lot less scrutiny from the U.S. Department of Justice and its Civil Rights Division.

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Branstad urged Army Corps to give last green light for Bakken pipeline

Governor Terry Branstad denied in September that he’s a friend to Big Oil interests seeking to build the Dakota Access (Bakken) pipeline across four states, including Iowa.

But in a move his office did not announce last week, Branstad joined North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple and South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard to urge the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers not to delay approval of the final federal easement needed to complete the pipeline.

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