November 27, 2014

Congressman King says resignation of Defense Secretary Hagel continues pattern of defense politics

Representative Steve King. (file photo)

Representative Steve King. (file photo)

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has resigned after serving as the Pentagon chief since early 2013 when he succeeded Leon Panetta. Hagel is a former Republican U.S. Senator from Nebraska. Iowa Republican Congressman, Steve King, says Hagel and the president appear to have been at odds over handling military policy in the middle east.

“Chuck Hagel might have spoken out a little too boldly about what we needed to do beef up our forces against ISIS. And it doesn’t fit very well with the president’s no boots on the ground promise,”King says. “And it doesn’t fit so well with the deconstruction of the U.S. military, the weakening of the military that the president has pushed so hard for.”

King says it looks like there is a significant disagreement at the root of Hagel’s resignation. Hagel was the third person to serve as President Obama’s defense secretary following Robert Gates and Panetta. King says there has been a pattern of politics in defense briefings since President Obama took office, going back to some staffers who were holdovers from the Bush administration.

“They would be sitting there briefing us and it changed dramatically one president to the next. Same faces of the briefers, it became political responses instead of tactical and factual classified briefing. And that is very troubling if you are going to push your military into a political operation,” according to King. Hagel has agreed to remain in office until his successor is confirmed by the Senate. King made his comments during an appearance on KSCJ radio in Sioux City.

(Reporting by Woody Gottburg, KSCJ, Sioux City)


Congressman King suggests ‘censure’ for Obama over immigration order

Representative Steve King.

Representative Steve King.

The reaction from Iowa’s congressional delegation to Predident Obama’s immigration order includes one suggestion that congress vote to publicly and formally reprimand Obama for his actions.

Democratic Senator Tom Harkin says Obama has taken “common sense steps” and “is doing the right thing.” Republican Senator Chuck Grassley says Obama has taken “the wrong way forward” and is “poisoning the well for future action” om immigration reform. Democratic Congressman Dave Loebsack of Iowa City says he has “concerns about the president acting without congressional approval,” but Loebsack says he hopes the president’s executive order now spurs House Republicans to vote on an immigration reform bill.

Republican Congressman Steve King of Kiron is a leading critic of “amnesty” for any illegal immigrant. King says no one in congress wants to throw the country in turmoil and impeach the president, but King suggested during an appearance last night on CNN that congress might vote to censure Obama instead.

Iowa businessman urges GOP to ‘fix’ immigration system

Jon Troen

Jon Troen

A Republican businessman from Iowa is joining today’s nationwide push to encourage Republicans to pass some sort of immigration reform.

“Republicans now have the opportunity to lead and to solve this problem,” says Jon Troen, president of Mittera Group, which includes companies like Rock Communications that publishes newspaper inserts and catchfire media which develops websites and mobile apps as well as the Colorfx printing plants.

He says that’s because Republicans not only will control the U.S. House in 2015, but Republicans will have a majority of seats in the U.S. Senate and will be able to control the debate agenda there.

“One of the things that’s been frustrating is for a long time Republicans have let Democrats define this issue,” Troen says. “Now that we’re running both houses on congress we can actually solve this problem and improve America’s economy, improve border security and do it in a way that’s compassionate and is consistent with conservative beliefs.”

In the fall of 2013, Troen flew to Washington, D.C. to join a U.S. Chamber of Commerce lobbying effort to encourage the Republican-led House to pass the comprehensive immigration reform bill that had cleared the Democratically-controlled Senate. This year, Republicans like Congressman Steve King say Republicans won victories in the 2014 election because Americans do not want amnesty for illegal immigrants. Troen says “no one” is supporting amnesty.

“I don’t think anybody believes there should be a blanket provision that just says, ‘Hey, never mind. Everybody’s fine,’ but what we did elect leaders of congress to do is to lead and to govern and to solve these problems,” Troen says. “And I don’t think anybody including Representative King or anybody on either side of this issue would look at our immigration system and say, ‘Hey, that’s a system that really works.'”

Troen says his company is like many others — it needs highly-skilled foreign workers and that’s one reason reform of the immigration system is necessary. Troen has helped one employee with a visa navigate what Troen calls the “non-sensical” immigration system.

“The system is completely outdated,” Troen says. “It’s completely broken and, frankly, it’s easy to complain about problems. It’s hard to fix them and it is time for both sides of the aisle and our leaders in both houses of congress to fix this problem.”

Troen argues the U.S. economy would have recovered more quickly had congress addressed immigration reform sooner. Troen appeared today at the state capitol, at a news conference organized by business groups pushing for immigration reform. Over 100 top GOP donors today co-signed an ad published in the Washington Times that calls on Republican congressional leaders to act on immigration reform in 2015.

Senator Grassley to vote for Keystone pipeline


The U.S. Senate will vote today on the Keystone XL pipeline.

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says he’ll be voting today in favor of construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline that will run from the oil sands in Canada to refineries on the Gulf Coast of Texas.

Vital sections of the pipeline through Nebraska, South Dakota and Montana have been on hold, awaiting approval, since 2008. Grassley, a Republican, says the issue deserves action that’s long overdue.

“It would transport underground rather than posing greater risk to the public, traffic and environmental safety that happens when you ship by railroad,” Grassley says. “We’ve had two or three fairly destructive and with many casualties, in the case of Canada, of these sort of rail accidents.”

Opponents fear the pipeline would cause irreparable harm to the environment should there be a leak, but Grassley says those concerns are overblown. “The State Department released its analysis this year concluding this pipeline would not bear significant environmental impact and would provide the safest way to transport oil,” Grassley says. “It also found that rejection of the pipeline would not affect Canada’s decision to develop their own oil resources.”

The U.S. House passed the measure approving the pipeline last week though if the Senate should okay the measure, it’s unclear how President Obama will react. Grassley says the pipeline would help strengthen North American oil production. “The Keystone XL pipeline is an opportunity to advance U.S. energy security with a partnership with one

Senator Chuck Grassley.

Senator Chuck Grassley.

of our most stable trading partners in the world,” Grassley says. “Wouldn’t you rather get your oil from Canada than from the volatile Middle East?”

TransCanada has applied for a presidential permit to build the Keystone X-L pipeline from western Canada to Steele City, Nebraska. It would connect with the southern portion of the pipeline, which is operating from Cushing, Oklahoma to refineries along the Gulf Coast in Texas. The northern portion of Keystone XL is estimated to cost $5.4 billion. It would carry 830,000 barrels of oil sands crude -daily- from Canada to the refineries.

Iowa Congressmen, Tom Latham, Steve King — both Republicans — voted for the pipeline in the U.S. House, as did Democrat Dave Loebsack. Democrat Bruce Braley voted against it.


Latham and King hopeful tax credit for wind energy will get extended

Congressman Tom Latham.

Congressman Tom Latham.

Iowa’s two current Republican congressmen say chances are good, but not certain that the wind production tax credit which has been a boost to Iowa’s wind industry will be revived.

Congressman Tom Latham expects the U.S. House to vote in December on a bill that would extend for two more years a list of over 50 tax breaks, including the tax credit for wind energy production. “The Wind Energy Tax Credit — that will be included in any final deal or else they’ll have a real problem getting it passed,” Latham says.

Congressman Steve King says the package of tax breaks appears to be in a “good position” for passage. “It’s not a guarantee. It’s my sense the direction that’s is going and the production tax credit for wind would be within that,” King says. “Once they start peeling one from the others, then they throw this thing into a big fight and then there’s no expectation, at that point, that we could put it all back together and get it done by the end of the year.”

Representative Steve King.

Representative Steve King.

The tax benefit for wind power expired at the end of 2013. Late last week a committee in the U.S. Senate started work on a bill that would restore that tax credit for wind production, along with more than 50 other temporary tax credits that expired last year.

Latham warns things may get complicated if some members of congress push to make some of those tax breaks permanent. “In a lame duck session, you never know what’s going to be the final outcome,” Latham says.

The term “lame duck session” is used to describe voting in the U.S. House and Senate that happens after Election Day and before January, because some members, like Latham, won’t be part of the new congress in 2015. After 20 years in the U.S. House, Latham did not seek reelection this year.


Steve King says executive action on immigration would provoke ‘constitutional crisis’

Representative Steve King.

Representative Steve King.

Republican Congressman Steve King says President Obama will provoke a “constitutional crisis” if he follows through with an executive order that would shield millions of illegal immigrants from deportation.

“There’s just a growing coalition of people that are starting to see that this isn’t just a trial balloon that the president has been floating for several months,” King says, “but it is a very, very serious threat to our constitution and it is an impending constitutional crisis.”

King has been a leading critic of what he calls “amnesty” for illegal immigrants. Congress was in session last week and King talked with his colleagues about what action can be taken if Obama issues that executive order.

“We haven’t coalesced on an idea and a direction at this point, but I believe we that we’re digging in, ready to do so,” King says. “And there are a number of options that are in front of us.”

The “preferred” option, according to King, would be for the president to back off his threat to take executive action but, if Obama does, King says congress can act quickly in December to shut off funding for the agencies that would carry out the new immigration policy. As for filing articles of impeachment against Obama if he does issue an executive order on immigration, King says that’s a political decision.

“High crimes and misdemeanors are not defined. Congress defines them. That really means that the people need to weigh in,” King says, “so of course I don’t want to go there. I don’t want to say the word (impeachment) but we have this: The president has taken an oath…to uphold the constitution, to take care that the laws are faithfully executed. We also take an oath and the president’s oath to the constitution may or may not mean something to him, but ours had better mean something to us.”

Some Democrats have said executive action from President Obama on immigration would only be temporary, as it would put pressure on congress to act.

“There are a few Republicans who think that, but I think that there’s a huge flaw in that thinking,” King says. “…If the president could violate the constitution and insist that congress pass legislation to conform to his lawless legislative edict in order for the president’s edict to be constitutional, that is a ridiculous concept that our founding fathers sought to avoid. They want congress to restrain a president, not want to conform to a lawless one.”

King says he cannot fathom the “audacity” of President Obama thinking “he can completely destroy the rule of law with the stroke of a pen.”

King made his comments during a telephone interview with Radio Iowa.

Results of Iowa’s 2014 Election: Ernst, Branstad, incumbents win (AUDIO)

Governor Terry Branstad and supporters on election night.

Governor Terry Branstad and supporters on election night.

Over 1.1 million Iowans voted in the 2014 General Election. Read more about the turn-out here.

In Iowa’s U.S. Senate race, Republican Joni Ernst defeated Democrat Bruce Braley by 8.5 points.  Hear Ernst’s Election Night speech here.  Listen to Braley’s remarks to supporters here.

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad easily won reelection to a sixth term and will become the nation’s longest-serving governor ever.  Listen to Branstad’s victory speech.  Jack Hatch, the Democrat who challenged Branstad’s bid for reelection, spoke to supporters shortly after the polls closed.

Republicans won three of Iowa’s four congressional seats.  Congressmen Steve King and Dave Loeback, as well as Congressmen-elect David Young and Rod Blum, all spoke with Radio Iowa on Election Night to talk about their victories. Jim Mowrer, the Democrat who ran against Steve King, addressed speculation that he may run against U.S. Senate Chuck Grassley in 2016.  Read about the congressional races here.

Staci Appel talks with supporters after losing her race for the U.S. House.

Staci Appel talks with supporters after losing her race for the U.S. House.

Incumbents won in each of the races for state ag secretary, state treasurer, state attorney general, state auditor and secretary of state.  Read more about those results here, along with the news that Democrats held onto their slim two-seat edge in the Iowa Senate, while Republicans gained four seats in the Iowa House to up their majority to 57 of the 100 seats there.

(Reporting by the Radio Iowa news team, including Matt Kelley, who anchored Radio Iowa’s Election Night reports; Dar Danielson at Iowa GOP Election Night Headquarters; Pat Curtis at Iowa Democratic Party Election Night Headquarters; with editing and additional reporting from Todd Kimm and O. Kay Henderson in the newsroom.)