What the Iowans fought for, bragged about in massive year-end spending bills

The U.S. House and Senate managed to wrap up their work for the year without shutting down the government, an improvement on the state of affairs when the fully Republican-controlled Congress left for the winter holiday break in 2018.

The two huge bills contained about $1.4 trillion in spending, which will keep the federal government open through the end of the current fiscal year on September 30, 2020. President Donald Trump signed the legislation.

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Played for suckers on ethanol, top Iowa Republicans still covering for Trump

Governor Kim Reynolds and U.S. Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst praised President Donald Trump in October, when the administration gave assurances corn growers and the ethanol industry would get what they wanted from the Environmental Protection Agency’s 2020 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) guidelines. The governor and senators were among Midwest Republicans who had lobbied Trump on the issue in September.

When the final rule released this week didn’t match the promises, biofuels advocates slammed Trump for not keeping his word to farmers. But top Iowa Republicans let the president off the hook by shifting the blame to the EPA.

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Our biggest ethanol problem? There’s too much of it

Iowa State University economist Dave Swenson challenges the conventional wisdom on a hot political topic. -promoted by Laura Belin

The sky is falling and Midwest rural economies are in danger of collapse. So say the nation’s ethanol producers, corn farmers, and like-minded politicians.

Their collective fingers are pointing at the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s granting of 31 waivers to U.S. refineries lowering the amount of biofuels they are required to blend into the petro-fuels they distribute. The waivers, the stakeholders claim, are the cause of a string of biorefinery closings and idlings.

Working through this, however, does not lead one to necessarily conclude that the infamous 31 waivers are the chief culprits.

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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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