Loebsack not optimistic about post-recess congressional activity

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CORALVILLE — U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack doesn’t expect a flurry of action when Congress reconvenes next week after its two-month district work session.

Other than a continuing resolution to fund the government in the new fiscal year beginning Oct. 1, Loebsack doesn’t anticipate any “big” issues to be resolved before Congress breaks for the general election.

The prospects don’t look any brighter after the election, according to the Iowa City Democrat who represents the 24-county southeast Iowa district that includes Iowa City and Davenport.

“It depends, in part, on whether the Senate flips Democratic because then there might be an incentive for Republicans to do some things because they know what’s coming down the road,” Loebsack said during a visit to Coralville Monday.

He included the Trans-Pacific Partnership among major legislation unlikely to see action. President Barack Obama has been pushing for the TPP.

Obama has indicated he would like to win Senate approval of the treaty, which is seen as one of his legacy issues, during the lame duck session between the general election and the end of the years.

“First Paul Ryan and last week Mitch McConnell have both said they have problems with it and they’re not going to bring it up,” Loebsack said.

The future of the 12-nation trade agreement will depend, in part, on who wins the Nov. 8 election, he said. Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have expressed concerns with the TPP, “and so have I,” Loebsack said.

“But that doesn’t mean there won’t be a trade agreement down the road, but it will look different,” he said.

In Coralville, Loebsack toured Higher Learning Technologies, the creator of a mobile learning platform for professional training. For example, more than 90 percent of graduating nursing students and nearly 90 percent of dental school graduates have used HLT’s study guides in the last 30 days, co-founder Adam Keune told Loebsack. It also provides study aids for physicians, medical services, and business professionals, including Realtors. The company has 46 employees and its apps have been downloaded 2 million times.

“This is another great example of a public-private partnership,” Loebsack said referring to the assistance the company has received by working with the University of Iowa. In return, HLT makes its products available to UI students without charge.

HLT, he added, appears to have several opportunities for growth, especially with the military. HLT has a study app for the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery that potential recruits take. It’s seeking a partnership with the Department of Defense. Its software would give the military premium content, such as making it possible for recruiters to quickly identify those potential recruits with the highest aptitude.

Loebsack, who is seeking re-election to a sixth term, is being challenged by Republican Chris Peters, a Coralville physician.

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