Iowa delegation 2-3 on health care repeal

The five congressmen from Iowa voted along party lines today as the U.S. House of Representatives approved legislation that would repeal the federal health care reform law President Obama signed into law in the spring of 2010.  All 242 Republicans and three Democrats in the U.S. House voted for the repeal.  (None of those three Democrats were from Iowa.)

Congressman King speaks at a Capitol Hill press conference to urge passage of his ObamaCare repeal language. Also pictured (left to right): Rep. Tom Price, Rep. Jeff Duncan; Rep. Louie Gohmert and Rep. Michele Bachmann

Congressman Steve King (R-Kiron, Iowa) made several cable TV appearances and spoke on the House floor a few times over the past couple of days.  Check out King’s YouTube channel to watch those videos.  King  issued the following written statement after tonight’s vote:

“When ObamaCare passed, I made a pledge to work to uproot the law from the U.S. Code. To fulfill this promise, I drafted and introduced language to repeal ObamaCare ‘as if such Act had not been enacted.’ Today, the House of Representatives passed this language, and we are one step closer to fully repealing the law,” said King.

“Today’s historic vote was made possible because Americans have consistently demonstrated both resolve and fervor for repeal. In fact, Americans even elected 87 new Republicans to the House of Representatives to provide repeal supporters with the reinforcements we needed to answer their calls for repeal.”

“Today’s repeal vote represents not only a promise kept, but also the beginning of the end of ObamaCare itself. I will continue to work for ObamaCare’s repeal until this unconstitutional law is no longer on the books.”

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Moments of silence in Iowa legislature

The 2011 Iowa legislature began this morning.  The state senate was first to convene.  Senate President Jack Kibbie read the names of the slain and injured in Saturday’s shooting in Arizona, then asked for a moment of silence.  He concluded by saying, “Amen.”

The Iowa House began a few minutes later, opening with a moment of silence “to recognize the tragedy in Arizona….All please stand an observe a moment of silence,” said Rep. Steve Lukan, the temporary speaker of the House.

The moments of silence in the House and the Senate were followed by opening prayers.

Iowa Republicans gathered this morning at 7 o’clock in a downtown hotel for a fundraising breakfast.  Their invocation, delivered by Senator-elect Joni Ernst, did not mention the Arizona incident.

Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal (D-Council Bluffs) began his opening-day remarks in the Iowa Senate by talking at length about the  shooting in Arizona.

“An elected representative was gunned down by doing what each of us do every day,” Gronstal said.  “…It’s an attack on our very system of government.”  Gronstal said it meant he began the session with “a more somber moment than usual,” but he added the incident should give all state legislators “a renewed sense of our responsiblity to our constituents.”

Wounded AZ congresswoman’s brother was ISU kicker

An Arizona congresswoman was shot in the head today as she held a town hall meeting in Tucson.  Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords has a link to Iowa.  Her brother, Alex Giffords, was Iowa State’s kicker from 1979-1982.

Initial reports indicate five people were killed.  A federal judge and a nine-year-old girl are among the dead.  The congresswoman is among perhaps as many as 10 other shooting victims.  Doctors say they’re optimistic about her chances for recovery.   Congresswoman Giffords was among the members of congress who read the U.S. Constitution aloud on the House floor this past week.  She read the First Amendment.

Congressman Braley Statement on Shooting in Arizona

Washington, DC – Today, Congressman Bruce Braley (IA-01) released the following statement on the shooting in Tucson, Arizona:

 “While we still don’t have all the details, Carolyn and I are praying for Gabby. Our thoughts go out to her husband Mark, her family, her staff and all who know and love her. And I add my deepest condolences to the families of the other victims of this morning’s tragic, senseless shooting.

I also should note that Gabby’s brother, Alex Giffords, was a placekicker for the Iowa State football team. She gave me a print of Beardshear Hall at Iowa State that I have in my office, which she got from her brother.”


WASHINGTON, DC – Iowa Congressman Tom Latham released the following statement today following an attack on Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and others in Arizona:

“Kathy and I are keeping Congresswoman Giffords, her staff, her family and the other victims of today’s senseless tragedy in our hearts and prayers.  I know Congresswoman Giffords to be a dedicated servant to her constituents and the cause of democracy in the United States.

“No rational person could ever think that a political disagreement in this great nation should be solved with bullets, and I’m horrified by today’s events.”

Harkin Statement on Arizona Shootings

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today issued the following statement after learning that 18 people had been shot and six died at a public event in Arizona.  U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) remains in critical condition and U.S. District Court Judge John M. Roll is among those who were killed.

“When public servants and innocent civilians are struck down at a public event, a shudder goes through the hearts of all Americans.  This news is nothing short of a tragedy.  My thoughts are with Congresswoman Giffords and all of the families affected by this terrible turn of events.”

King Statement on the Shooting of United States Representative Gabrielle Giffords
Washington D.C.- Congressman Steve King (R-IA) released the following statement after United States Representative Gabrielle Giffords was shot during a public event in Tuscon, Arizona today.
“My prayers continue to be for Gabrielle Giffords, her family, her staff, and all those that are in agony today,” said King. “We serve together and she is outgoing, personable and widely respected. It is inconceivable that anyone could harbor a vile, vindictive or malicious attitude towards her. I will continue to pray for her swift recovery and for the recovery of all those injured in this tragedy.”

Congressman Loebsack Issues the Following Statement on Shooting Involving Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords

Congressman Dave Loebsack released the following statement today after news that Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and others were shot at an event in Tucson, Arizona:

“I was shocked and deeply saddened to hear the news of Representative Giffords, her staff members and others involved in this tragedy. I have the distinct privilege of working with Congresswoman Giffords as a member of the House Armed Services Committee. She is a great colleague and a fine public servant. It is unspeakable that such a tragedy occurred while she was meeting with her constituents, whom she serves with distinction and honor. My thoughts and prayers are with her and her family, and the families of those affected by this senseless act of violence.”

King will not chair panel drafting immigration-related bills

Congressman Steve King (R-Kiron, IA) was thought to be in line to be chairman of the House subcommittee which drafts immigration-related leigslation.  The chairmanship goes to a Californian instead.  Politico uses the words “passed over” in its story.  The Huffington Post reports King was snubbed.”  Here’s the story in The Hill.

King on anti-anchor baby push

Congressman Steve King (R-Kiron, IA) is chairman of the U.S. House subcommittee which has jurisdiction over immigration related issues.  He’s just introduced legislation on so-called “anchor babies” — the children born to immigrants who are in the country illegally.

King Introduces Bill Closing “Anchor Baby” Loophole
Congressman King’s “Birthright Citizenship Act of 2011” a necessary step towards regaining control of the nation’s borders
Washington D.C.- Congressman Steve King (R-IA), Congressman Phil Gingrey (R-GA), Congressman Gary Miller (R-CA) and Congressman Rob Woodall (R-GA) released the following statements after introducing legislation to end the practice of automatically granting American citizenship to “Anchor Babies” born in the United States to illegal alien parents. The legislation is officially designated as H.R. 140, the “Birthright Citizenship Act of 2011.”
Statements of Congressman King, Congressman Gingrey, Congressman Miller and Congressman Woodall follow:
Congressman King:
“The current practice of extending U.S. citizenship to hundreds of thousands of ‘Anchor Babies’ every year arises from the misapplication of the Constitution’s citizenship clause and creates an incentive for illegal aliens to cross our border. The ‘Birthright Citizenship Act of 2011’ ends this practice by making it clear that a child born in the United States to illegal alien parents does not meet the standard for birthright citizenship already established by the Constitution. Passage of this bill will ensure that immigration law breakers are not rewarded, will close the door to future waves of extended family chain migration, and will help to bring an end to the global ‘birth tourism’ industry.”
Congressman Gingrey:
“Throughout my time in Congress, combating illegal immigration has always been a high priority of mine. Addressing the birthright citizenship issue needs to be at the forefront of this effort, and I am pleased to advance this initiative with my colleagues. I will continue working on this – and several other measures – to stem the overwhelming tide of illegal immigration in this country.”
Congressman Miller:
“It is unfair to grant birthright citizenship to children of illegal immigrants because it undermines the intention of the Fourteenth Amendment, rewards those that have recklessly broken our nation’s immigration laws, and costs American taxpayers billions annually.  By simply closing this loophole, we will save taxpayers billions and reduce the appeal of entering the United States illegally.  This bill simply makes sense.”
Congressman Woodall:
“Representative King is absolutely right with the introduction of this birthright citizenship legislation, and I am very proud to join him as an original co-sponsor on this bill. This Congress must take bold steps to solve our illegal immigration crisis. An important part of immigration reform must be removing the incentives that are in place encouraging illegal immigration.  Representative King’s bill is a good step in that direction.”

Michele Bachmann returning to Iowa

Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, who was born in Iowa, is due in Iowa later this month and, according to ABC News, will headline an event for the Iowans for Tax Relief PAC.  ABC’s story includes speculation that Bachmann is pondering a bid for president in 2012.

I drove up to northwest Iowa in April of last year to hear Bachmann speak at a fundraiser for Congressman Steve King.  You can listen to her 43 minute speech by clicking on that link.  She sounded like a potential presidential candidate.

…About 500 people paid $50 per ticket to hear Bachmann and King speak at a meeting hall in Sergeant Bluff, a Sioux City suburb.  Bachmann told the crowd she is a native Iowan who pleaded with her parents not to move north.

“I will never forget the day in sixth grade when my parents came to tell us that my dad had taken a job at Honeywell up in Minneapolis and they were asking us — not asking –  telling us that we were going to move up to Minneapolis and I remember crying. The tears came down my cheeks and I said, ‘I just don’t want to leave Iowa.  I love Iowa,’ and I said, ‘Des Moines is our capital.  How can I move to another state where Des Moines is not our capital?’ My tears had no effect on my parents.  We moved anyway,” Bachmann said.  “But I’m back here today to be here with all of you.”

Bachmann’s mother was from Mason City and both her parents were graduates of Waterloo East High School.  Bachmann, who was born in Waterloo, lauded the State of Iowa and the Iowa Caucuses which are the first contest in the presidential selection process.

“Just a great state (with) the best people, the most down-home people, family people and I think that’s why the Caucuses — the political Caucuses — need to always start here in Iowa because it’s kind of the center of the nation, but it’s also the heartbeat of the nation where the real people in this country are really at, what the real people think about Washington, D.C. is thinking.  Don’t you think that’s true?” Bachmann asked the crowd and she got a wave of applause.  “I think Iowa gets it.  I think Iowa people get it.”

 I asked Bachmann about running and blogged her response.

UPDATE:  Steve Brown of FOX News blogged about Bachmann’s upcoming visit and her presidential prospects.

A GOP candidate event, in March

The Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition (formerly known as the Iowa Christian Coalition and also formerly known as the Iowa Christian Alliance) has announced it plans to host a forum for prospective 2012 Republican presidential candidates.  It would be interesting to see the list of politicians the group has invited.  Read the group’s news release below.

Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition Announces Presidential Forum

West Des Moines – This weekend, the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition sent out invitations to the top names being floated in the Republican primary for the 2012 presidential race.  The group has planned a presidential forum for Monday, March 7th which is likely to be the first of its kind in the nation as the beginnings of a wide open presidential primary take form.  Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition President, Steve Scheffler states that the event will shape up to be the largest gathering of pro-family, values minded voters in the spring of 2011.  “Candidates considering a run for president must take the Iowa Caucuses seriously and we are the caucus voters.”

The letter sent to candidates reads:

“The Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition is the largest and the most influential group in Iowa politics.  In the past election cycle, we made well over 560,000 voter contacts through our VoterTrak program that allows us to identify and reach low propensity conservative voters.  We worked hand-in-hand with eight state legislative candidates to put volunteers on the ground in the most competitive districts.  Six of the eight will be sworn in as legislators this month.  We published and distributed over 300,000 voter guides to churches all across the state to educate voters prior to the November 2nd election.  The result was record progress in all three branches of Iowa’s government.

As an organization, we host two large events every year with our statewide membership.  On Monday, March 7th, 2011, from 5:30-7:30pm, we will be hosting our annual Spring Kick-Off here in Des Moines as the 2012 presidential cycle begins.  This year, the format of the event will be a 2012 Republican Presidential Candidates Meet and Greet Event.  It is not a debate and there will be no Question and Answer time, but it will give presidential candidates ten minutes to make a pitch and present their vision as the voters of Iowa begin the process of making their decisions for the first in the nation caucuses.

Last year, in a non-presidential cycle, we had nearly 500 people in attendance at this event, including many elected officials.  This year, we expect to see a much larger crowd.  This event is an important stop for candidates because over 60% of 2008 GOP caucus goers in Iowa self identified themselves as evangelical Christians.  There will be no better opportunity to meet these voters this spring than the 2011 IFFC Spring Kick-Off.  Come early and stay late to shake hands and to talk to your potential voters one on one before and after the program.”

Findley to be Branstad’s lawyer

Brenna Findley, the Republican Party’s unsuccessful candidate for attorney general this year, will be Governor-elect Terry Branstad’s legal counsel.  The post does not require confirmation by the Iowa Senate.  The appointment raises questions about whether Branstad, via Findley’s legal work, may in some way join the lawsuit other states’ attorney generals have filed challenging the federal health care reform law.   (The lawsuit which made news yesterday was filed solely by Virginia’s attorney general.  There’s another suit which has been filed by a group of attorneys general.)

Branstad spokesman Tim Albrecth sent this statement via email when asked whether Findley’s appointment meant Branstad intends to pursue that path:

“Gov. Branstad believes the federal health care law is unconstitutional, and will look at all of the options at our disposal while he studies this issue during the transitional phase.”

Read the Branstad Transition Team announcement about Findley below.

Branstad announces Brenna Findley as administration’s legal counsel

(URBANDALE) – Gov.-elect Terry Branstad today announced that Brenna Findley will serve as legal counsel in the Branstad/Reynolds administration.

“Brenna Findley has a talented, sharp legal mind and her knowledge and work ethic will be valued in my administration,” said Branstad. “Her work in private sector, combined with her extensive governmental experience at the federal level, provides a strong framework to serve as legal counsel in my administration.”

Findley, 34, is from Dexter, and a graduate of Drake University, with B.A. in Political Science and History, and a minor in Russian. From there, Findley went on to earn her law degree at the University of Chicago Law School, where she served as symposium editor of the school’s law journal. Additionally, she helped entrepreneurs on Chicago’s south side start their own businesses.

Upon graduation, she worked in private practice prior to serving as chief of staff to Congressman Steve King, R-Kiron. Findley is currently counsel in private practice with Whitaker Hagenow GBMG.

“I’m excited to serve in a meaningful way, helping find solutions for the state by serving in the Branstad-Reynolds administration, and I look forward to serving the people of Iowa in this position,” said Findley. “I share the governor’s commitment to open, honest and transparent government, and will work every day to ensure the goals of this administration are met.”

Grassley, King differ on Pigford

Two Iowa Republicans have vastly different views on the “Pigford” case involving alleged USDA discrimination against black farmers. Senator Chuck Grassley’s staff issued a prepared statement late Tuesday, praising the steps taken, while Congressman Steve King has been howling about it for months.  On Monday King railed against a “very, very urban” senator’s involvement in the issue (former Senator Barack Obama) and “slavery reparations.”   [Read more…]

Huckabee: I can beat Obama, too (AUDIO)

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee is scheduled to keynote an Iowa Family Policy Center event this Sunday afternoon.  He spoke with reporters before it started. Listen to the mp3 of the 15-minute news conference: HuckabeeSunday

As for where he is in the decision-making process about another bid for the White House in 2012, this is what Huckabee said:

Honestly, I’m not on a time table. I’m not on somebody’s calendar to say, ‘This is the time when I have to decide.’ Am I keeping the option open? Yes.  Am I open to it, considering it and giving, you know, thought?  Of course.  I think I would be foolish not to in light of having been through it,understanding what it’s about.

“…I’m in a very different position than I was four years ago when I was an asterisk in the polls and most people didn’t think that I was even going to be serious and this time, in most of the national polls, I’m either the top or near the top and that certainly is a different position to be in, but it doesn’t mean that I’m automatically going to do it either. There’s a lot of deep, internal soul-searching and another thing for me is that, as I’ve told many people, I don’t plan to jump in a pool unless there’s water in it.”

In response to a question about it, Huckabee said a statement he made on FOX News Sunday that it would be “less than likely” that he would run in 2012 had been taken “completely out of context.”

“I was being asked…essentially, if you had to make the decision today. Well, I didn’t have to make the decision today,”Huckabee said. “…That was not an indication of a complete lack of interest or a denial and I think it was reported that ‘Huckabee says he won’t run’ and I’ve never said that…That was a year ago.  Ask me in six months and I’ll have a clearer answer.”

Huckabee was asked if a Sarah Palin candidacy would discourage him from running.

“One of the things I’ve learned in politics is you never make your decisions based on what other people are going to do or don’t do because, first of all, they can change their minds,”Huckabee said. “And, second of all, the one thing I learned running four marathons is you run your race, your pace.  You do not go out there and look around and constantly wonder what somebody else is going to do.

“No question she will be a very, very strong presence and force if she gets in, you know, she may run away with it and that’s one of those things that everybody as to be prepared for, but the decision I make won’t be based on what she does. If I get in it, I would prefer that she not and that she endorse me.”

Huckabee laughed, as did the three Iowa Family Policy Center people flanking Huckabee as he stood before the cameras.  Huckabee quickly continued:  “But if she does then, you know, I welcome her because that I think she’s got a very strong and important voice and has brought a lot of energy to the grassroots of the Republican Party and that I think is very, very positive by anybody’s standards.”

A reporter noted that Palin said this week she could beat Obama, then asked Hucakbee: Could you?

“I always believed I could,”Huckabee said. “I wouldn’t have run the last time if I didn’t think I could and the good news for me is a majority of American voters seem to think that. In the last poll, I was the only one who polled above (Obama) outside the margin of error.”

Huckabee a few moments later said as he mulls a run in 2012, he’s considering how to finance a campaign. “I’m probably going to give more weight to that this time than I did before because I understand far better than I can even begin to tell you how tough it is to run a campaign on fumes, without fuel,” he said.

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