The budget impasse at the statehouse may lead one lawmaker to pass on a trip to Russia. Representative Willard Jenkins, a Republican from Waterloo, is scheduled to leave Saturday. Jenkins describes it as a “long-time-planned trip” to Russia as part of a University of Northern Iowa delegation. “It’s been clear from the very beginning that my job as legislator takes priority, so if we don’t get done, I stay here,” Jenkins says. “It’s that simple.” Jenkins says the voters elected him to serve, and that’s what he’ll do if the Legislature doesn’t conclude by Friday night. The two-week-long trip is a U-N-I exchange with a Russian university. U-N-I faculty have traveled to the University at St. Petersburg, and hosted Russian professors in Cedar Falls, over an exchange that’s lasted several years. Jenkins, who is a retired John Deere executive, has been to Russia before scouting out business for the farm implement company. Jenkins traveled to Moscow two or three times in the 1970s, but he’s never been to St. Petersburg. One state Senator was gone much of last year and part of this year because he was called to active military duty. If Jenkins were to leave before the Legislature completes its work, Republicans would lose their one-vote advantage in the House and be unable to pass a bill. It takes 51 votes to pass a bill in the 100-member House, and Jenkins says he’ll stay around to provide that 51st vote.
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