IA-01: Will Republicans give up on Rod Blum? Should they?

Yet another special election for a U.S. House seat suggests a wave may be building. Although the Democratic candidate appears to have fallen short in Ohio’s twelfth district, the close result in what has long been a safe Republican seat should worry GOP leaders. Dan Guild noted that there are 68 Republican-held House districts where Hillary Clinton did better in November 2016 than she did in OH-12.

“[S]enior party strategists have concluded that over a dozen districts held by Republicans may already be unwinnable,” Alexander Burns and Jonathan Martin reported for the New York Times on August 8.

Iowa’s first Congressional district may be one of the places where House leaders decide to cut their losses. But no one should write two-term Representative Rod Blum’s political obituary yet.

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Iowa reaction to aid plan for farmers hurt by trade war

“Tariffs are the greatest!” President Donald Trump tweeted today, adding that “All will be Great!”

A few hours later, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced “up to $12 billion in programs” aimed at helping farmers, “in line with the estimated $11 billion impact of the unjustified retaliatory tariffs on U.S. agricultural goods.”

Trump will surely talk up the assistance at his joint event with Representative Rod Blum (IA-01) in Dubuque on July 26. But the escalating trade war isn’t just affecting farmers. Steel tariffs are hurting manufacturers too. “Whirpool shares plummeted Tuesday after executives blamed rising steel and aluminum costs for diminished quarterly earnings,” Michael Sheetz reported for CNBC on July 24. Whirlpool’s refrigerator factory in Amana is the largest employer in Iowa County.

While Democrats criticized the temporary response to a “self-inflicted wound,” top Iowa Republicans reacted to the farm aid plan in three distinct ways. Blum and Representative Steve King (IA-04) unambiguously praised the president. Their U.S. House colleague David Young (IA-03) was notably more critical of Trump’s policy. Iowa’s U.S. senators, Governor Kim Reynolds, and Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig tried to thread the needle, depicting themselves as fighting for Iowa farmers and open markets without denouncing the president’s approach to trade negotiations.

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Iowa's Congressional delegation reacts to #TreasonSummit

Progressive political strategist and multimedia producer Greg Hauenstein takes on the astonishing events in Helsinki. -promoted by desmoinesdem

I jotted down some quick thoughts on the press conference between President Donald Trump and Russian Dictator President Vladimir Putin that has jaws dropping globally.

TL;DR version: Trump says he believes Putin & Co. didn’t mess with our elections.

This flies in the face of evidence from the CIA, the Senate Intelligence Committee, and Trump’s own Justice Department who just moments ago announced the arrest of a Russian national for “infiltrating organizations having influence in American politics, for the purpose of advancing the interests of the Russian Federation.”

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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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