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Iowa’s delegation weighs votes on $1.7T government funding bill
Year-end bill needs approval from 10 Senate Republicans
As Congress scrambles to pass a government funding bill by the end of the week, Iowa’s congressional delegation is weighing votes on the last major piece of legislation before the new year.
In a procedural vote Tuesday to advance the omnibus spending bill, Iowa’s Republican U.S. senators were split. Sen. Chuck Grassley voted yes, while Sen. Joni Ernst voted no.
Still, Grassley withheld voicing support Wednesday for the bill’s final passage, saying he was waiting on a number of amendments before saying whether he will support it.
“We’re going to have at least 12 amendments,” Grassley told reporters. “I’m going to wait until the amendments get done before I decide how I’m going to vote.”
Grassley said he voted to advance the bill because “if you don’t move this or a continuing resolution, you’re going to shut down government.”
A vote on the bill’s final passage could happen by Thursday morning in the Senate. The final vote on the legislation needs buy-in from 10 Republicans in the Democratic-controlled Senate. If it doesn’t pass, the decision would be kicked into January, when Republicans gain control of the House.
The $1.7 trillion, 4,000-page bill includes funding for a wide range of government programs, including Ukraine aid, defense spending, veterans spending and changes to social programs like food assistance and Medicaid. It also includes changes to the 1887 Electoral Count Act, a measure Grassley has advocated for.
Grassley opposed a measure that would have made permanent residency available to Afghan refugees, according to the Washington Post, that was eventually dropped from the bill.
Ernst said in a statement she supported increased defense spending, but opposed the package overall.
“Washington’s budget process is completely broken, and while I’m certainly glad to see the increase in resources for the Pentagon, continued replenishment of our depleted military stockpiles, and lethal aid to Ukraine, overall this massive, last-minute, 4,200-page spending package is a lump of coal,” she said Wednesday.
Ernst’s spokesperson said she supports amendments that would strip the bill of earmarks and stop spending at the Department of Homeland Security until Title 42, a pandemic rule that allows the United States to quickly expel migrants, is reinstated. The end of the rule was placed on temporary hold by the U.S. Supreme Court.
The House vote on the bill is expected later this week.
Republican U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson said on Twitter she plans to vote against the bill. She said in a Twitter thread the bill does not secure the border and undermines immigration enforcement.
The bill funds organizations that provide services to undocumented immigrants and provides less funding for Border Patrol agents than the agency has requested, Hinson said.
“The omnibus was a missed opportunity to secure our border and end this Biden-made crisis,” she said. “We won’t stop fighting for border security.”
A spokesperson for Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, a Republican, did not say which way the representative would vote on the bill.
“Congresswoman Miller-Meeks is carefully reviewing the bill, but is disappointed that government funding is being pushed through another $1.7 trillion bill at the last minute,” spokesperson Mary Collins Atkinson said.
Atkinson said Miller-Meeks wanted to see more funding for border security and less funding for the IRS. But Miller-Meeks was supportive of 12 community projects in Eastern Iowa receiving funding, she said.
Spokespersons for U.S. Reps. Randy Feenstra, a Republican, and Cindy Axne, a Democrat, did not respond to requests for comment.