Iowa delegation reacts to Obama speech

Read the statements issued by Iowa’s congressional delegation after President Obama’s “Jobs” speech:

Senator Chuck Grassley tonight released the following statement after the President’s speech before a Joint Session of Congress. 

“What the President’s saying is more of the same, especially with what was in the stimulus bill.  That massive government spending bill passed two years ago, right after the President took office, and was touted by the administration as a way to keep unemployment below eight percent, which it hasn’t by a long shot.  When we’ve tested something like that, and it failed, we need to try something new.  That something new would be to remove the tremendous anxiety that Congress, the President and Washington lately are creating for employers throughout America, in businesses small and big.   Employers don’t know what’s coming next in the way of regulations and higher taxes.  As a result, they’re understandably reluctant to spend the trillion dollars that’s now sitting in corporate treasuries.  The cash flow of small businesses needs to be protected, or they can’t hire anybody new.  We’ve got to free up that corporate money and the entrepreneurial spirit to create economic activity and jobs. 

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Latham & Boehner, still BFFs?

Shortly after Ohio Congressman John Boehner became House Speaker, there were stories about his inner circle.  The headline on this January 5, 2011 Radio Iowa story was Latham’s Best Friend to become House Speaker today.  Boehner did a brief shout-out to Latham during his first House speech after being elected House Speaker, referring to: “My buddy Latham.”

The headline on today’s Radio Iowa story is Latham, King among Republicans who vote against GOP debt plan.  That would be the plan Boehner put together.

In 2012, Latham faces a tough reelection battle against Democratic Congressman Leonard Boswell, as a result of redistricting. Last night, Latham issued a written statement after casting his “no” vote on Boehner’s plan.

WASHINGTON, DC – Iowa Congressman Tom Latham released the following statement on Friday after voting against S. 627 in the U.S. House of Representatives:

“Throughout this year, the national discussion has been dominated by the need to change Washington’s spending ways.  I, as many Americans do, fear that this talk is truly just talk.  A good case in point is President Obama’s 2012 budget.  When he introduced this budget he used these strong words, “We simply cannot continue to spend as if deficits don’t have consequences; as if waste doesn’t matter; as if the hard-earned tax dollars of the American people can be treated like Monopoly money; as if we can ignore this challenge for another generation.  We can’t.”  But a review of the President’s budget shows that his words are nothing more than just talk about changing the culture of spending because that budget adds an additional $9.5 trillion dollars to our debt.  

“I have been very clear in our debate about spending that I will only support measures that meet the criteria of immediately cutting wasteful spending, imposing spending caps as a percentage of our economy going forward, and requiring a balanced budget amendment.  We simply can’t keep giving Washington permission in the form of a blank check to continue to spend beyond its means.

“As neither the President nor the Senate have yet to offer one specific proposal, I applaud the House Republican leadership for taking the initiative on the national debt limit and spending restraint debate by actually offering real proposals, discussions and votes in an effort to move this process forward and meet the President’s declared default deadline of August 2nd. 

“Unfortunately, while this measure heads in the right direction, it falls short of the criteria I feel must be met in order to gain my support and vote.

“This bill gives the government permission to continue the destructive spending and borrowing policies that have created waves of uncertainty throughout our economy without the real guarantees we need to force Washington to do as Iowa families, farmers and small businesses do – live and spend within its means.

“I share the growing frustration and anger the American people have over this debate and fractured process.  And I continue to pledge to work with any members of the House or Senate who are willing to join me to move our country forward with a solution that gives the American people the peace of mind of a common-sense, enforceable solution.  This is our responsibility as elected leaders to do nothing short of putting this nation on the path towards fiscal sanity and responsibility without risking default on our debt and other obligations.”

Braley’s 19-year-old son faces pot possession charge

Nineteen-year-old Paul Braley, son of Iowa Congressman Bruce Braley, has been charged with possession of marijuana, first offense, and he faces a weapons charge, too.  Paul Braley was the passenger in a car that was pulled over last Friday, at about 2 a.m.  Details here.

Christie Vilsack: compromise not a dirty word (audio)

Former Iowa First Lady Christie Vilsack, a Democrat, kicked off her congressional campaign this morning with a speech in which she said it was time for folks in D.C. to “lower their voices and raise their sights.”

According to Vilsack, “Iowans are sick of the partisanship and fingerpointing that has blocked our politics.  They want us to be civil.”

Vilsack never once mentioned Congressman Steve King, her likely Republican opponent in 2012. Vilsack told the crowd she didn’t “want to score points.  I want to make progress.”

Vilsack’s husband — US Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack — was at the event [photo], which was staged in Iowa State University’s Memorial Union in Ames.  The Vilsack’s two sons, a daughter-in-law and their grandchild were also standing at the front of the room for the speech.

AUDIO: Vilsack’s speech. 14 min

Foiled home invasion @ Boswell farmhouse

The statement below lays out what happened last night at the farmhouse on the farm Congressman Leonard Boswell owns (and used to farm) in southern Iowa.  Boswell’s 22-year-old grandson, Mitchell, is renting out the land and farming there.   According to the statement, the 77-year-old congressman (a Vietnam vet) and his 22-year-old grandson confronted an armed intruder last night.  The shotgun Mitchell Brown pointed at the intruder belongs to Congressman Boswell.

Statement Concerning Incident at the Boswell Farm

Des Moines, Ia. – Please find a statement below from Congressman Leonard Boswell’s Chief of Staff, Grant Woodard, concerning an incident at the Congressman’s farm on the night of July 16th.

At approximately 10:45 p.m. on Saturday there was an attempted home invasion at Congressman Leonard Boswell’s farm outside of Lamoni, Iowa. At the house at the time was Congressman Boswell, Dody Boswell, his daughter Cindy Brown, and grandson Mitchell Brown. The intruder entered the front door of the farm house and physically assaulted Cindy while demanding money at gunpoint. Hearing Cindy’s screams, Congressman Boswell entered the entryway and attempted to disarm the intruder of his weapon. While the scuffle between Congressman Boswell and the intruder was occurring, Mitchell was able to secure a shotgun from another room. Mitchell pointed the shotgun at the intruder who then retreated into the fields around the house.

Besides some scrapes and bruises, Congressman Boswell and his family are fine.

The Decatur County Sheriff’s Department is currently investigating the incident along with state and federal authorities.

Congressman Boswell would like to express his sincere thanks to all the members of the law enforcement community who have worked through the night on this matter.

Grassley on “Weinergate”

U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley is one of the most prolific and popular Tweeters on Capitol Hill.  He was asked this morning about New York Congressman Anthony Weiner’s explicit tweets, and Grassley suggested Weiner should resign.  Grassley also said the fiasco wouldn’t change the way he tweets, “because I don’t send pictures.”

A new bill targeting Carhart

You may have read yesterday’s story in which two key senators said “there’s a way” to draft legislation that would prevent a Nebraska doctor from opening a late-term abortion clinic in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

The Iowa House has passed a bill that would ban abortions in Iowa after the 20th week of pregnancy. Today, Senator Joe Bolkcom announced he’ll file a separate bill on the issue rather than try to amend the House bill. It will be introduced in the Senate Ways & Means Committee, suggesting it will employ some tax-related approach specifically targeting Dr. LeRoy Carhart’s clinic.  Read Bolkcom’s statement below:

Senator to introduce bill preventing Council Bluffs Clinic
Statement from Senator Joe Bolkcom

“I share most Iowans’ goal of preventing Dr. Carhart from moving his practice to Iowa. That’s why I’ll be introducing a new bill later this week in the Ways and Means Committee that will prevent him from coming to Iowa.

“What I won’t do is endanger a woman’s health and safety. As the House-passed bill is drafted right now, there’s no exception for life of the mother, rape, incest or fetus abnormalities that would prevent the baby from surviving after it’s born.

“Not every pregnancy ends the way a family hopes it will. A woman with a wanted pregnancy that goes terribly wrong must face an awful decision that none of us ever want to face. A Nebraska-style total ban will only make a difficult situation worse, and that’s no place for politicians to meddle.

“Republicans know this. Their version of the bill is a political ploy. In fact, according to key supporter Senator Johnson said in an interview last week that ‘the bill makes it more dangerous for pregnant women with a medical emergency to have to wait until the last minute if the woman truly needs an abortion after 20 weeks.’

“What’s more, constitutional experts say the bill as drafted is blatantly unconstitutional. There’s not much point in passing an unconstitutional bill that will only embroil Iowa in an expensive court battle.

“We can all agree that there should be fewer abortions. I hope Senate Republicans will put politics aside and help me pass legislation that will prevent Dr. Carhart from coming to Iowa.”

How many Reps. does it take to pass a resolution?

It apparently takes less than a handful of state representatives to pass a House Resolution, as two resolutions were approved today in the Iowa House — after House leaders said yesterday that there would be no floor action.  Resolutions are generally non-binding documents, although some resolutions do call for action, like a statewide vote on a constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage or impeachment of four of the justices on the Iowa Supreme Court.

Today’s resolutions passed quickly, as the House convened, prayed, said the Pledge, and passed the two resolutions in the span of four minutes according to the Iowa General Assembly’s website, which says the House convened at 10:12 a.m. and adjourned at 10:16 a.m.

At the national level, House Speaker John Boehner has tried to enforce tighter rules so the U.S. House will no longer consider “frivolous” resolutions that are symbolic or congratulatory — especially those commemorating athletic exploits — like Congratulations to the World Champion (fill in the blank)!  Boehner has even been reluctant to pass a resolution honoring the Navy Seals & the intelligence community for the killing of Osama bin Laden.

The Iowa House in the past when Democrats were in control had taken steps to avoid passing commemorative or “making a statement” resolutions, too.  Such resolutions generally must have been bipartisan and either statewide or national in scope, but there’s no mention in House rules of any limitations on resolution topics this year under Republican control.  This year the House has honored bacon, among other things, along with some athletic exploits.  The House also marked the 100th anniversary of Ronald Reagan’s birth (in a resolution sponsored by Republicans) and the 100th anniversary of IBM’s founding (in a resolution sponsored by Democrats and Republicans from the Dubuque area where IBM now has a facility).  There’s even been a resolution marking the Wuchang Uprising.  Really.

The most recent House Debate Calendar is for Wednesday, May 4 and there were no resolutions listed on it. Two resolutions were passed this morning. One articulates Texas Congressman and two-time (perhaps three-time) presidential candidate Ron Paul’s call for an audit of the Federal Reserve System.  It was cosponsored by 18 Republicans.  The other resolution, sponsored by just one Republican, calls for a two-year moratorium on enforcement of air quality rules from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The top Democrat in the Iowa House issued a statement on today’s developments:


“Once again, House Republicans are governing in an extremist fashion.  Because of the budget standoff, all representatives in the Iowa House were sent home this past Wednesday.  However, this morning to a virtually empty House Chamber, Republican Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer brought up and passed a controversial measure calling for a “two year moratorium” on plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and curtail efforts to stop polluters.

House Resolutions relay the will of Iowans and are almost always non-partisan, like the resolution honoring WWII veterans.  Since the measure was approved, the Iowa House is also directed to inform Iowa’s congressional delegation about its passage giving the false impression that it had unanimous, bi-partisan support in the Iowa House.  House Democrats will be submitting our own letter to Iowa’s congressional delegation to let them know we did not support this controversial legislation and it should not have been called up for debate in our absence.”

Non-candidate Thune headliner at Sioux City event

South Dakota Senator John Thune announced several weeks ago that he would NOT run for the Republican Party’s 2012 presidential nomination.  But Thune has agreed to follow in the footsteps of people like Newt Gingrich (thinking about running in ’12), Rick Santorum (thinking about running in ’12), George Pataki (not running in ’12) and John Ensign (really not running in ’12; just resigned from US Senate) and headline an event for the American Future Fund.

AFF Announces Lecture Series Event with Senator John Thune
US Senator John Thune to speak in AFF’s Conservative Lecture Series in Sioux City
American Future Fund announces the kick-off of their Conservative Lecture Series for 2011 with guest speaker US Senator John Thune scheduled to speak on May 31 in Sioux City.
Senator Thune (R-SD) was first elected to Congress in 1996 and then to the Senate in 2004.  In 2009 he was elected by his colleagues to serve as Chairman of the Republican Policy Committee, the fourth-ranking leadership position in the US Senate.  Senator Thune has been a leader in the fight against ObamaCare and the potentially catastrophic cap and trade legislation.  He is a strong advocate for a balanced federal budget and reforming the budget process.  Senator Thune strongly believes in and advocates for the basic principles of liberty, freedom and small government that our founders built this great country on.
AFF Founder Nick Ryan stated, “It is an honor to have such a distinguished member of the US Senate join our lecture series in Iowa.  We look forward to hearing Senator Thune speak on our nation’s most pressing concerns.”
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Iowa senators react to bin Laden’s death

Iowa’s two U.S. Senators have issued statements about Osama bin Laden’s death.

From Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA):  “On a sunny September 11, 2001 our nation learned of Osama bin Laden and the organization he lead which killed 3000 innocent people on that fateful day. His death is a symbolic victory and a significant achievement in the war against terror, but it isn’t an end. Al Qaeda and radical terrorists around the globe remain a grave threat to our country and its people. We must remain vigilant in our fight to maintain the security of the United States. As the memories of 9/11 come flooding back with the death of Osama bin Laden, we remember and honor the families of those who lost their lives that day, and we pay special tribute to the men and women of our military and national security teams who continue to protect this nation and have led the effort over the last 10 years to bring justice to bin Laden. More work remains and we must remain vigilant against possible retaliatory attacks.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today released the following statement upon learning that Osama Bin Laden had been killed in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

“Just a few months short of the tenth anniversary of the worst attack in our nation’s history, U.S. forces brought to justice the world’s most wanted terrorist, Osama Bin Laden.  This victory is a testament to the quality of our intelligence service and the courage and precision of the Navy SEALs.  I commend the Obama Administration and thank the servicemen and women who carried out this operation.”