Axne, Finkenauer vote against latest Democratic COVID-19 relief bill

Iowa’s two first-term members of the U.S. House were among fourteen Democrats to oppose the latest bill drafted to address the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The so-called HEROES Act cleared the lower chamber on May 15 by 208 votes to 199 (roll call). It called for an estimated $3 trillion in spending, including “nearly $1 trillion in aid to battered states, cities and Native American tribes, and another round of bolstered jobless benefits and direct government payments to Americans.”

Republicans in control of the U.S. Senate oppose the bill, so its passage in the House serves primarily to communicate preferred Democratic policy.

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Highlights, dog whistles from an Iowa Senate debate

Matt Chapman closely follows Iowa legislative affairs, especially bills like the one discussed here. -promoted by Laura Belin

Iowa Senate Republicans have approved another bill targeting people receiving public assistance, such as Medicaid or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.

Senate File 2272, which passed along party lines February 26, would require the state to contract for extra screening, looking for evidence of Iowans enrolled in more than one state. Labor and Business Relations Committee chair Jason Schultz introduced and floor-managed the bill. He has been attempting to pass versions of this legislation for years and sponsored five bills in a similar vein in 2019.

The vendor that would receive the contract, LexisNexis, does similar work in other states, often flagging 15 percent of beneficiaries as possibly fraudulent. In the five southern states that have adopted this screening, further checks have confirmed dual participation by just 0.1 percent to 0.2 percent of enrollees, on average.

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Iowa Democrats dismiss Julián Castro's critique at our peril

“If you didn’t know anything about this process, and I told you how it was set up, you would think that a right-wing Republican set this process up, because it really makes it harder to vote than it should be,” Julián Castro told a room full of Iowa Democrats at Drake University on December 10.

Castro’s campaign organized the town hall (which I moderated) to highlight problems with the Iowa caucus system and a calendar that starts with two overwhelmingly white states.

Now that Castro has ended his presidential bid, it may be tempting to dismiss his critique as sour grapes from a candidate who wasn’t gaining traction in Iowa.

That would be a mistake. Castro is only the most high-profile messenger for a sentiment that is widespread and growing in Democratic circles nationally.

If Iowa Democrats want to keep our prized position for the next presidential cycle and beyond, we need to acknowledge legitimate concerns about the caucuses and take bigger steps to make the process more accessible.

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Steve King: Abortion, immigration, and religion

Ryan Bruner is an Iowan who is approaching politics with love. -promoted by Laura Belin

Holidays are a time of reflection. Thinking back on my childhood in western Iowa, there could have been no more perfect place to spend my early years. Within a three-mile radius from my childhood home was my whole world– school, church, family, friends. I rode my bike to school and walked a block every Sunday to a packed Saint Lawrence Church. My friends and I would race to our neighbor’s front yard to play football after school and leave our bikes unlocked by the street without a care in the world.

We grew up in a Midwest dream town. Neighbors took care of each other and set aside differences for the greater good of the community.

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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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Julian Castro stands up to injustice and discrimination

Bonnie Louise Brown is an elected member of the Iowa Democratic Party’s State Central Committee and a civil rights activist in Des Moines. -promoted by Laura Belin

Right now, in this country and in our home state of Iowa, we have a crisis. Hate crimes are on the rise, we have concentration camps on our southern border and Americans are strapped down by their student loan debt. We need strength to overcome this, we need courage to do what is right, and most importantly, we need a leader who will fight for every American.

Secretary Julián Castro is that leader. He has a plan to make the United States of America a home for all its citizens and put us back on a path of moral clarity. He is the strong candidate we need, a candidate who will stand up for what is right and end the terrible discrimination against immigrants and people of color in this country.

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