Iowa Delegation splits 3-2 on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal

The U.S. House has voted to repeal the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that allows homosexuals to serve in the military only if they don’t “tell” anyone they’re gay or lesbian.  The three Iowa Democrats — Congressmen Bruce Braley of Waterloo, Dave Loebsack of Mt Vernon and Leonard Boswell of Des Moines — voted for the repeal of DADT.  The two Iowa Republicans — Congressmen Tom Latham of Ames and Steve King of Kiron — voted to keep the 1993 DADT policy in place.

Boswell is the only veteran among the five Iowans who currently serve in congress.  He issued the following statement:

Boswell Releases Statement on Support for the Repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Policy in Defense Authorization Act

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Leonard Boswell released this statement following his vote to repeal the Department of Defense’s ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy after the Department has completed their ongoing internal review; prepared policies and regulations, and repeal is consistent with the military’s standards of readiness, effectiveness, unit cohesion and recruitment and retention.

“After serving 20 years in the military, including two tours of combat in Vietnam, I support the repeal of the ‘Don’t ask, Don’t tell’ policy. During my Army career, I served alongside great men and women who, regardless of sexual orientation, were courageous military leaders that I trusted with my life and the lives of the troops under my command. The character and strength of a solider is reliant on their courage, loyalty, honor, and ability to do their job – not their sexuality.”

King (the Republican from Kiron in western Iowa) issued a statement earlier today on the topic.

King: “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Repeal.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congressman Steve King (R-IA) today released the following statement following his participation in a Capitol Hill press conference in which he urged Congress to reject efforts to repeal the legislative prohibition on military service by openly homosexual men and women. King was joined at the press conference by: U.S. Representative Jack Kingston (R-GA); Tony Perkins, President, Family Research Council; Douglas Lee, Chaplain, (Brigadier General, Ret); Kevin Theriot, Senior Counsel, Alliance Defense Fund; and a delegation of Pastors and Rabbis representing congregations throughout America.

“One of the few things President Clinton got right was his decision to sign the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy into law,” said King. “To Clinton’s credit, he put the nation’s interests in military readiness and unit cohesion ahead of the political interests of so-called ‘gay-rights’ activists. Regrettably, it appears that the ruling troika of Speaker Pelosi, Senator Reid and President Obama want to reverse these priorities.

“The nation’s military is currently fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is not the time to subject our fighting forces to a rushed and risky experiment in social engineering. As lawmakers, our responsibility to our troops could not be clearer: Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Repeal.”

Boswell gets seat on Armed Services

A brief announcement just came from Congressman Leonard Boswell’s staff.  Boswell, a Democrat from Des Moines, will take a seat on the House Armed Services Committee.  There’s no explanation of why there’s an opening, or whether the committee’s roster was expanded (you may read the news release below).  Iowa will have two members on the panel.  Congressman Dave Loebsack (D-Mt Vernon) is a member of the committee.  UPDATE:  There were a couple of vacant slots on the committee since the beginning of the year that were just filled this week.

Washington, DC – Today, Congressman Leonard Boswell announced that he will assume a seat on the House Armed Services Committee after the House Democratic Caucus approved his request to serve on the committee.

“I am honored with the opportunity to serve on the Armed Services Committee where I can use my 20 years in the military to impact legislation that will support our troops and improve the lives of our men and women in uniform,” Boswell said. “As a member of this Committee, I will work to ensure that our service members and their families are looked after here and abroad; healthy and hurt; active and reserve.”

Boswell’s position on the Armed Services Committee is temporary through the end of the 111th Congress. He will keep his seats on the Committee on Agriculture and Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

Odds and ends, from debates to Glenn Beck

In no particular order, here are some items of political interest which have arrived in my email box this past week.

Iowa Public Television to Broadcast Republican Gubernatorial Debate Saturday, May 1

Debate sponsored by Iowa Broadcast News Association;
Broadcast Live on IPTV WORLD at 3:30 p.m., Rebroadcast on IPTV at 8 p.m.

(Johnston, Iowa)  — As part of the network’s Campaign 2010 coverage, Iowa Public Television will broadcast a debate among the three candidates vying for the Republican nomination for governor. The debate, sponsored by the Iowa Broadcast News Association, will be shown live on IPTV WORLD (statewide on IPTV.3 or Mediacom channel 119) Saturday, May 1 at 3:30 p.m. A rebroadcast of the debate will air on IPTV May 1 at 8 p.m.

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Braley, Loebsack & “Populist Caucus” criticise Geithner

China has been undervaluing its currency for years, and we cannot afford to wait any longer to address this problem.” — U.S. House Populist Caucus, April 7, 2010.

Congressman Bruce Braley (D-Waterloo, Iowa) is a co-founder of the “Populist Caucus” in the U.S. House of Representatives.  The group today penned a letter to U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, complaining the Chinese are manipulating their currency — and the group charges Geithner isn’t addressing the problem.  Geithner is visiting China.

Populist Caucus Statement on Treasury Department’s Refusal to Address Chinese Currency Manipulation in Report
Washington, DC – In advance of Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner’s visit to China tomorrow, members of the House Populist Caucus today issued the following statement urging him to release a determination on Chinese currency manipulation. Reps. Bruce Braley (IA-01), Peter Welch (VT-AL), DeFazio (OR-04), Michael Arcuri (NY-24), Betty Sutton (OH-13), Keith Ellison (MN-05), Steve Kagen (WI-08), Phil Hare (IL-17), Dan Lipinski (IL-03), Brad Sherman (CA-27), Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) and Dave Loebsack (IA-02) believe it is critical for Geithner to issue the report and address the issue of Chinese currency manipulation as quickly as possible.

“Secretary Geithner’s recent announcement that the Treasury Department is delaying the release of its bi-annual report on international exchange rate policies and delaying making a determination on Chinese currency manipulation is completely unacceptable and needs immediate corrective action.  It is clear that China is maintaining its currency at a devalued exchange rate by pegging the renminbi to the U.S. dollar at a fixed exchange rate, and that this unfair policy is having a detrimental impact on American workers and companies.  China’s undervalued currency lowers the price of Chinese exports, makes U.S. exports to China more expensive, and makes it impossible for U.S. producers and workers to compete on a level playing field.  Additionally, China’s devaluation of its currency exacerbates the already staggering U.S.-China trade deficit and threatens the stability of the global financial system. 

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Iowa delegation splits, 3-2, on health care bill

The three Democrats in Iowa’s congressional delegation — Bruce Braley of Waterloo, Dave Loebsack of Mount Vernon & Leonard Boswell of Des Moines — just voted for the senate bill.  The two Republicans in the congressional delegation — Tom Latham of Ames & Steve King of Kiron — voted against it.  Here’s the roll call on the 219-212 vote.

Four of the five congressmen from Iowa spoke with Radio Iowa this weekend about the vote.  Read the Radio Iowa story. Congressman Loebsack was the only one of the five who did not.  Loebsack’s spokeswoman said: “We are not planning on doing press calls.”

UPDATE:  Here are all the statements (after the jump) sent via email from members of congress, their challengers, the two political parties & other groups involved in the health care debate:

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Four Iowa Democrats in congress issue statement

This is what Congressman Bruce Braley (D-Waterloo, Iowa) was referring to this morning — a deal on Medicare reimbursement rates for Iowa doctors & hospitals.  Read the joint news release from the four Iowa Democrats who serve in congress below:

Loebsack, Harkin, Boswell, Braley Finalize Major Breakthrough on Medicare Payment Reform
Provision will end unfair geographic disparities, change Medicare to a quality-based reimbursement system

Washington, DC – Rep. Dave Loebsack, Sen. Tom Harkin, Rep. Leonard Boswell and Rep. Bruce Braley announced a major breakthrough today on the issue of Medicare payment reform in the final health care reform bill.  Loebsack, Harkin, Boswell and Braley have been outspoken advocates for changing the way Medicare pays health care providers for services, from its current fee-for-service system into a quality and value-based system.

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From Cornell to Corelle

Congressman Dave Loebsack (D-Mt Vernon, Iowa) was a long-time political science professor at Cornell College before he was elected to congress in 2006.  A Loebsack aide tells James Q. Lynch of The Cedar Rapids Gazette that Loebsack isn’t interested in becoming the school’s next president.

U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (D-Cumming, Iowa) is getting flack from the left. The Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) isn’t happy with Harkin who is now chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.  Adam Green, who identifies himself as co-founder of the PCCC, emails the following:

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee will spend thousands of dollars this week on an online ad campaign in the states of at least 10 senators who should be for the public option but have refused to issue a statement so far, reaching at least 1 million people online.

First up: Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa — and we’ll soon be naming more. Jon Stewart lampooned Harkin last week for previously saying, “I’d say right now we have well over 55 votes for a public option, but we need 60” — while now shrugging his shoulders and saying not even 50 exist.

Harkin also claimed on MSNBC that nobody has fought harder for the public option than him. I’ve been a longtime Harkin fan, but at this point, that claim is laughable. I can name at least 30 senators who have fought harder than Harkin, with more likely to come.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats wins one aspect of the race with competitors former Governor Terry Branstad and Representative Rod Roberts.  Vander Plaats was first to file his nomination petitions, a few hours after the period for filing opened.

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Fundraising among Iowa congressional candidates

Here’s what I’ve found on the FEC website as of 1 p.m. today.  Each figure is rounded to the nearest dollar.  All five incumbent congressmen intend to seek reelection in 2010.  Here’s how they rank in terms of cash on hand:  Braley is tops, followed by Latham, Boswell, Loebsack and King.

Among the challengers who’ve emerged, Republican Jim Gibbons in the third congressional district raised far more than any other.  Gibbons, the former ISU wrestling coach, raised exponentially more than the two other GOP competitors in the third district who filed a report with the F.E.C.  There are three other candidates in that six-way G.O.P. primary in the third district who have not filed paperwork with the F.E.C. — or, if they have, it’s not posted online right now.

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‘Twas the day after the holiday period

Good day, folks.  The holidays are over and the countdown to the 2010 Iowa legislative session is underway.  “Action” in the Iowa House & Senate is to commence on Monday, January 11, 2010.

While I was out of the office, enjoying time indoors with friends and family, my email box accumulated loads of announcements, pronouncements and denouncements.  I share this batch of email messages with you, in no particular order:

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Weekend update: “incarcerate, educate & medicate”

‘Tis the season to post on the blog sporadically.  Below are some of the top Iowa political stories of the past few days (you have to scroll all the way to the bottom for an explanation of that headline!).

In case you were making a list and checking it twice, there is another potential candidate for governor.  Jonathan Narcisse, a former Des Moines School Board member who went on a speaking tour with Republican gubernatorial candidate Chris Rants earlier this month, is “exploring” a run for governor.  Narcisse is a registered Democrat, but Narcisse says he’ll consider the idea of running as an Independent as well as the idea of running against  Democrat Chet Culver, the current governor, in a primary.  Narcisse sent reporters an advisory at 4 p.m. on 12/23/09 and held a news conference at 8:30 a.m. on Christmas Eve.   (I didn’t “work” on Christmas Eve; I hosted dinner for 16 at my house instead.)

As expected, U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) voted “yes” and U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) voted “no” on the health care reform bill on Christmas Eve.  The White House released a list of people President Obama called after the vote; it included Senator Harkin. Read statements from Iowa’s two senators below.

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