Republican's stunt holds up flood relief funding (updated)

Iowans awaiting federal flood relief money will have to wait a little longer.

Congressional leaders thought they had a deal to approve $19.1 billion in disaster aid before the Memorial Day recess. The U.S. Senate passed the bill on May 23 by 85 votes to 8. (Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst both supported the measure and said they’d worked to secure “specific relief for farmers whose grain bins busted because of flooding.”) President Donald Trump was willing to sign the legislation. House passage seemed assured, so most representatives left town for the holiday weekend.

Then a first-term Republican from Texas used a procedural move to hold up the bill on May 24. While most of the blame lies with U.S. Representative Chip Roy and the GOP leaders who failed to dissuade him, top House Democrats should not have put themselves at the mercy of any member of the minority.

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It's good to be orange

Chris Jones is a research engineer (IIHR-Hydroscience and Engineering) at the University of Iowa. This post first appeared at the author’s blog. -promoted by Laura Belin

Many have written how earth’s species are undergoing a mass extinction right now, the sixth such event in the planet’s history. These writers include Elizabeth Kolbert and the famous biologist Edward O. Wilson. Extinctions are occurring now at a faster pace than any time since 65 million years ago, when earth’s collision with a 7-mile wide asteroid caused the 5th great extinction, wiping out 70 percent of all species.

One species that did survive the fifth extinction was the Pallid Sturgeon. This fish entered earth’s evolutionary record about 70 million years ago. “Pallid” means absence of color, and true enough, the pallid sturgeon is nearly white. It is one of the largest (up to 85 pounds), longest-lived (as long as 100 years) and ugliest (like a bizarre cross between a shark and an armadillo) fish species in North America. The fish is endangered because we wrecked the Missouri River.

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IA-03: Zach Nunn spreads false hearsay about Cindy Axne

State Senator Zach Nunn has described his planned “listening tour” of Iowa’s third Congressional district as “an opportunity to learn from Iowa families, farmers, and business owners […] about priorities for their communities.”

Unfortunately, the not-quite-official Republican candidate for IA-03 can’t be bothered to check the facts before spreading false claims that suit his political ambitions.

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Drunk Dad

Chris Jones is a research engineer (IIHR-Hydroscience and Engineering) at the University of Iowa. First published at the author’s blog. -promoted by Laura Belin

William Blake said, “You never know what is enough unless you know what is more than enough.” I think about this ever-more frequently as the years fly by. I am at the point in my life where I want to “call it” when more than enough becomes maddeningly obvious. Enough of more than enough.

The latest episode in this series is the idea reported in the Des Moines Register and elsewhere that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE, or Corps) favors endangered species over people, especially with regard to the recent Missouri River flooding.

I don’t claim to be an expert on the inner workings of the Corps, but I’ve been up and down the river enough times to know that this is not an agency staffed with radical environmentalists. I find this idea to be a crystallization of the obstacles before us as we try to make Iowa’s landscape more resilient, sustainable and ecologically sound.

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Images from the flood in downtown Davenport

Emilene Leone is a photographer who lives in the Quad Cities. -promoted by Laura Belin

Like many regions in Iowa, Davenport has experienced intense flooding this spring. We are no strangers to floods here, and much of our riverfront has been planned with the idea that floods will be a regular occurrence.

However, the flooding has been particularly intense this year, and as the Mississippi River has continued to rise, a break occurred in the temporary levee on Tuesday, April 30. At about 3:30 in the afternoon, floodwaters began to suddenly rush into the east side of downtown Davenport. With little warning, cars were quickly submerged and residences and businesses were forced to evacuate.

I took my camera downtown on May 1 to capture some images of the flooded streets and attempts by city staff and volunteers to protect the businesses and organizations in the Bucktown neighborhood from encroaching floodwaters.

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IA-01: First thoughts on a possible Rod Blum-Abby Finkenauer rematch

Thomas Nelson of the Waterloo/Cedar Falls Courier was first to report last week that former U.S. Representative Rod Blum’s campaign has spent $11,365 on polling this year. Blum’s quarterly filing with the Federal Election Commission showed two disbursements to the candidate’s longtime pollster in early January.

The payments exceeded the $4,119 Blum for Congress owed The Polling Company at the end of December, indicating that Blum commissioned new surveys in the first district and wasn’t merely settling debts left over from the 2018 campaign.

While I have not been able to find details about the questions asked, his campaign likely tested voters’ views on key issues as well as approval and favorability numbers for himself and Representative Abby Finkenauer. Blum hasn’t ruled out running for office again. Nelson noted that he appeared at a Jones County GOP event on April 11.

No Republican has confirmed plans to run against Finkenauer. I see Blum as a weaker challenger than State Representative Ashley Hinson, who has said she’s considering the race and will make her intentions known after the legislative session ends.

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