Sen. Joni Ernst (third from left) and Rep. Randy Feenstra, (right) visited Colombia and Panama to discuss immigration. (Photo courtesy of Sen. Joni Ernst’s office)
Welcome to the D.C. Dispatch, your weekly roundup of Iowa’s politicians in D.C. This week was relatively quiet in D.C., as both the House and Senate were in recess, aside from a Tuesday vote on the debt ceiling.
Here’s what you need to know from this week:
Border talk continues as Biden announces reinstatement of “Return in Mexico” policy
Iowa Republicans kept talking about the southern border this week.
Sen. Joni Ernst and Rep. Randy Feenstra traveled to Colombia and Panama over the weekend to visit with political leaders and discuss a swell of immigration at the border. (Notably, Ernst and Feenstra were the only two Republicans in Iowa’s D.C. delegation to miss Trump’s rally last weekend.)
“Between the ongoing crisis at our southern border, which has exacerbated the drug trafficking challenges Iowa faces; the threat posed by a growing Chinese influence in the region; and, the economic partnership and cooperation, particularly regarding supply chain disruptions, this was a critical mission at this time,” Ernst said in a statement.
Late Thursday, the Biden administration told courts that the U.S. would reinstate the Trump administration’s “Remain in Mexico” policy, pending negotiations with Mexico. Under this law, asylum seekers would be returned to Mexico to await a decision from U.S. courts.
It’s a change that Rep. Ashley Hinson and other Republicans have called for in recent weeks. But it was likely a Supreme Court decision on the issue that spurred the administration to restore the policy.
Grassley: ‘I didn’t even know they were on strike’
Sen. Chuck Grassley told reporters on Thursday that he was unaware that 10,000 John Deere employees had gone on strike the night before.
“That’s a decision those workers made, and, under the laws, we have to respect it,” Grassley said, according to The Des Moines Register. “I don’t have anything to say about it, because I don’t know the issues that are at stake. And I didn’t even know they were on strike, except you told me.”
House passes and Biden signs debt limit increase
After a Senate compromise last week, the House convened for a vote to increase the debt ceiling and avoid a default. The compromise will keep the government operating until early December.
President Joe Biden signed the bill into law Thursday.
All of Iowa’s Republicans voted against the debt limit increase. Democrat Rep. Cindy Axne voted in favor.
Grassley introduces big tech bill
Grassley and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., announced a new bipartisan proposal this week to regulate big tech companies.
The tech bill would prohibit online platforms from favoring their own products above other users on the website. It would also introduce some new regulations to protect small businesses that use large, online platforms to sell their goods.
“As Big Tech has grown and evolved over the years, our laws have not changed to keep up and ensure these companies are competing fairly,” Grassley said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Grassley and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., followed up on a bipartisan hearing aid bill passed in 2017. The legislation allows Americans to purchase hearing aids over the counter, but some Food and Drug Administration regulations still stand in the way.
Warren and Grassley sent a letter to the FDA this week, asking the department to clear the way for more competition and better prices for hearing aids.
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