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.”

What the “candidates” are saying

Here are the statements on Osama bin Laden’s death from three four potential GOP presidential candidates. 

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Santorum: war on terror is not over

Former Pennsylvania Senator Rich Santorum just called me to talk about Osama bin Laden’s death and his three-city lecture tour in Iowa today.  He delivered a lecture in Iowa City early this morning. He’s in Pella over the noon-hour as part of The Family Leader’s presidential lecture series.  Santorum will speak in Sioux Center late this afternoon.  Here’s a transcript of our telephone conversation.

Radio Iowa news director O. Kay Henderson (me): What are your thoughts on bin Laden’s death and what do you see as the future of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan?

Santorum: “I’m as energized as anybody that we were able to take this man whose mere existence was a sign of defiance to the United States, that we were actually able to take him out and prove that his comments in the past were saying, ‘The Americans, they’re weak…They won’t be diligent in fighting us.’  I think we’ve shown that in fact we will be and we are and we did and hopefully the lesson learned is that diligence does pay off and that this war is not over and that the threat has not been subdued, but that our actions, our continuing vigilance in Afghanistan and in Iraq and, hopefully, in other places around the world and in this country will continue to keep us safe and…ultimately be victorious in subduing this threat.”

Henderson: Some are starting to talk about bringing the troops home.  Is there an ongoing mission in Afghanistan?

Santorum: “One of the things we’ve learned is that when you have — particularly in the Muslim world — you have failed states that can be occupied by religious fanatics, you create an atmosphere for bad things to happen not just around that region but in our country and so we need to remain vigilant that we don’t leave in Afghanistan what caused the events of 9/11 which is a failed state that can be run and supported by terrorist organizations.”

Henderson: In 1991, George H.W. Bush was seen as a shoe-in for reelection in 1992 because of the way the Gulf War had been prosecuted and many Democrats who were mulling a run for president didn’t run because of that impression.  How does bin Laden’s death impact Republicans like yourself who are thinking about running for president?

Santorum: “This is one moment, a very welcome moment.  It’s an important moment in the fight but there are a lot of issues that we have to deal with going forward in other places around the world as this fight continues. And we’ve seen the president of the United States and the actions he’s had to deal with de novo as a president, which is places like Iran and their revolution, Egypt, Libya, Syria, other places around the Middle East — the president has handled all these situations poorly and as a result I believe we are less safe as a result of that and those are the issues that are going to be most important to the voters. As we saw in 1992, ‘what have you done for me lately?’ is a very important and, I think, appropriate way the American public looks at these situations.  It’s not what you’ve accomplished — that’s certainly a factor — but ‘What are you doing?’ and ‘What will you do?’ that’s much more important.”

Henderson: As a Pennsylvanian, did you feel at all compelled to cancel your appearances in Iowa today and go to Shanksville instead?

Santorum: We’ve got some serious issues that we’ve got in this country with the continuing battle with the jihadists and I’m not happy with the way we’re dealing with those and so I’d rather continue to go out and talk about the future. I certainly share in the enthusiasm and the support for our team that was able to kill bin Laden, but you know, my job is to focus on where our country is going in the future.”

Santorum’s lectures are focused on America as a “moral enterprise” with people “molded by faith”.

Iowa’s governor, lieutenant governor react to bin Laden’s death (audio)

Governor Terry Branstad issued a written statement this morning.

(DES MOINES) – Gov. Terry E. Branstad today released the following statement on the death of Osama bin Laden:

“I am proud of our president, and our troops, who never lost their resolve in finding Osama bin Laden and bringing him to justice. While the world is no longer nervously looking over its shoulder for this ruthless murderer, Iowans must remain vigilant in our support of the nearly 3,000 Iowa National Guard members deployed overseas. Our thoughts, prayers and support are with our brave men and women who remain in harm’s way.”

The governor released the statement from North Carolina, where he is attending a meeting of the National Governors Association.

Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds began her media briefing with statehouse reporters this morning by talking about bin Laden’s death.  Listen to the entire

AUDIO: News conference 12 min

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.”

Iowa congressional delegation statements re: bin Laden

Four Iowa congressmen issued statements shortly after President Obama announced the world’s most-wanted man had been killed in a U.S. military operation.

Waterloo, IA — Today, Congressman Bruce Braley (IA-01) released the following statement after the announcement of Osama Bin Laden’s death:

“Today the world is a safer place. Tonight’s announcement that Osama Bin Laden has been killed by U.S. forces is good news for all Americans. Nearly ten years after his cowardly attacks on innocent Americans and citizens of the world, and on the eighth anniversary of declaring “Mission Accomplished,” we can finally close a tragic chapter in our nation’s history. Our troops have made tremendous sacrifices, with many lives lost and many changed forever, and we must never forget the real cost of this war on terror.”

Des Moines, IA – Congressman Leonard Boswell released the following statement after President Obama announced the death of Osama bin Laden.

“After hearing the news of Osama bin Laden’s death tonight, I immediately thought of our men and women in uniform who have bravely fought al Qaeda forces in the pursuit of the man responsible for attacking our nation on September 11, 2001,” said Congressman Leonard Boswell, who recently returned from a congressional trip to Afghanistan. “President Obama and our military leaders should be commended for their steadfast commitment to pursuing Osama bin Laden and his followers. I look forward to joining Iowa’s military families in welcoming our brave troops as they return home.”

WASHINTGON, DC- Congressman Loebsack issued the following statement after President Obama’s announcement that Osama Bin Laden has been confirmed dead.

“Tonight’s announcement is a testament to the men and women of our armed forces’ and intelligence community’s commitment to tracking down the man responsible for the death of thousands of innocent Americans.  Tonight stands as a profound chapter in our nation’s fight against those who work every day to do harm to the American people.  Even as we mark this day, however, we must remain vigilant – the threat against the American people remains and there are those who may seek revenge. The safety of our nation is paramount. Having just travelled to Islamabad to discuss critical counter-terrorism issues, and as a member of the House Armed Services Committee, I will continue to work to ensure the security of our nation.”

WASHINGTON, DC – Iowa Congressman Tom Latham issued the following statement after President Obama announced that Osama bin Laden had been killed:

“The reign of a ruthless killer has been brought to an end.  The death of Osama bin Laden is welcome news for America and her allies around the globe.  We owe a debt of gratitude to the military and intelligence officials who carried out this operation.  This is a critical victory for the cause of freedom and liberty.  God bless the victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks, and God bless the United States of America.”

Neither of Iowa’s U.S. Senators issued statements Sunday evening, nor did Congressman Steve King.

Must see video: King versus Kennedy

Northwest Iowa Congressman Steve King and Robert Kennedy, Junior,had a verbal confrontation yesterday during a House Judiciary Committee meeting.  Watch the exchange here.

Here's the key part:

King pressed Kennedy to explain one of his past statements.

"I just reflect back on a meeting in Clear Lake (Iowa) a few years ago and the quote that I recall…'Large scale hog producers were a greater threat to the United States and democracy than Osama bin Laden's terrorist network,' King said. "Is that an accurate quote?" Kennedy replied: "I don't know if that's an accurate quote, but I believe it and I support it."

Obama Halloween Day rally in Des Moines

What follows is a live blog of Obama's midday rally.  A text version of Obama's speech is at the very end.

It's a few minutes before 11 o'clock, central time, and retired opera star Simon Estes — a Centerville, Iowa, native — is singing the National Anthem.  The crowd cheered at the end.  Estes starts repeating Obama's name over and over, without syncopation.  The crowd finally gets into the three-syllable rhythm on its own: "Oh, Bahm,  Uh."  Estes chuckles.

Sources inside the Obama campaign report the butter bust of Obama is "on the scene."  As you may know, the woman who carves the "Butter Cow" at the Iowa State Fair endorsed Obama — and carved his likeness (at least the head and shoulders) out of butter in his honor.

Congressman Leonard Boswell was on stage a few moments ago, leading the crowd in the pledge.  At its conclusion, Boswell leaned into the microphone and simply said: "Obama."  The crowd cheered.

"Now, this is my idea of a surge," Senator Tom Harkin said to the crowd when he got to the microphone.  The setting for this event is a downtown park; the weather is incredible for the last day of October in Iowa — sunny, warm.  "Yes, we can.  Yes, we will.  Yes, we must," Harkin declared.  The park is festooned with huge flags, suspended in the air on one side with cranes.  There's a  backdrop of city buildings, along with the words "Iowa" and "Obama" — plus, the obligatory bales of hay are featured on stage for the camera shot.

A strong sun is shining down on the site, so much so that I have tossed by coat over the laptop and my head to create a curtain so that I can see my laptop screen.  Governor Chet Chulver, a Democrat who endorsed Obama shortly after the Caucuses, speaks next.  "Good morning, Iowa.  What a beautiful day….are we gonna win this thing November 4?" Culver said to begin.  "This started here in Iowa on a cold winter night and we are so honored that Barack Obama is going to join us here shortly."

The Des Moines Lincoln High School marching band is now performing for the crowd, something that sounds a bit familiar — a movie theme, perhaps?  Their second number is a familiar pep band song. 

There'a a brief lull and then Obama is introduced to the crowd at 11:30 a.m.  A Bruce Springsteen song is playing.  "Hello, Iowa!" Obama says to open. "Thank you everybody.  It's good to be back in Iowa."

The crowd cheers. Obama notes the sunny, balmy day.  "I don't know if you saw me standing in the rain in 30 degree weather earlier this week.  I'm still thawing out," Obama said.

Obama speaks directly to those who supported him in the Caucuses:  "This campaign began here.  You helped launch this campaign, so the people of Iowa — I will always be greatful to all of you."

"Iowa, I have just two words for ya:  four days," Obama said.  The campaign has provided a text of his remarks to follow.  I'll be back to post it.

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Al Gore at Iowa Democrats’ 2008 Jefferson-Jackson Dinner

Former Vice President Al Gore is tonight’s keynote speaker/main draw for the Iowa Democratic Party’s 2008 Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner.  Organizers say about a thousand people are expected. This is the fifth time Gore has appeared at the event. 

Befiore Gore got to the stage tonight, Lieutenant Governor Patty Judge stole the show a bit with some comments about Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin.  Scroll below to read her remarks; there’s an audio file there, too, if you want to listen.

Gore referenced Judge’s remarks at the beginning of his speech.  "Patty, I would pay money — I’d pay a lot of money to watch you and listen to you debate Sarah Palin," Gore said with a laugh.  The crowd cheered and whistled.  "If there’s just some way that we could arrange that.  Why don’t you call up Larry King?"  As you may recall, Gore — as the 1992 Democratic vice presidential candidate — faced down Independent presidential candidate Ross Perot in a highly-publicized joint appearance on The Larry King Show on CNN.

Gore was among the slew of 1988 presidential candidates who spoke at the 1987 JJ Dinner.  The most memorable part of the night, however, was the press conferences beforehand in which all the candidates were asked if they’d smoked pot as Douglas Ginsberg, President Reagan’s snominee for the Supreme Court, withdraw after admitted he’d smoked marijuana several times. (Gore said yes, he had smoked pot with Tipper, after you know what.)  The real Gore-related news that night was his announcement he’d quit campaigning in Iowa in advance of the Caucuses because the state was too dominated by liberals.

Gore spoke at the 1997 JJ Dinner, trotting out a slew of self-depricating jokes.  The 1999 JJ Dinner was a turning point for Gore’s campaign, as rival Bill Bradley donned his half glasses to read his speech, while a fiery Gore roamed the stage and exorted the crowd to repeat the line "Stand and Fight."  Gore returned to the JJ Dinner n 2001 and referred to Bush as "my president."

On this fifth occasion, Gore enters the hall as a Nobel Prize/Oscar winner.  The event is staged in Hy-Vee Hall in downtown Des Moines, in the room Barack Obama rallied with his supporters in the late afternoon, before the 2007 JJ Dinner that proved a turning point in Obama’s campaign.

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Richardson says send in Cheney

Early this afternoon at a VFW Post in Des Moines, New Mexico Governor/Democratic presidential candidate Bill Richardson handed an Iowa woman the Purple Heart her uncle earned in the Korean War.  Story here

Afterwards during Q&A with reporters, Richardson expanded on his view that Vice President Dick Cheney should be dispatched to Pakistan to urge Parkistani President Pervez Musharraf to hold elections, and that U.S. aid to the country should be withheld if Musharraf doesn’t end Marshall Law and hold legitimate voting. 

Henderson:  "Why did you say Cheney should go to Pakistan?  Do you have no confidence in the Secretary of State?"

Richardson:  "I felt, no, I have confidence in Secretary Rice.  I believe that it would demonstrate — sending the vice president who is Musharraf’s buddy that we consider this recent departure from democracy a very serious breach and I would tell President Musharraf that we’re going to cut off the $10 billion in aid unless he returns to democracy and unless he seriously goes after the safe havens in Al Qaida and on his border."

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