D.C. Dispatch: Senators propose additional sanctions on Russia

By: - March 4, 2022 5:57 pm

Sen. Chuck Grassley, upper right, speaks at a town hall in Chariton on March 4, 2022. (Photo courtesy of Sen. Grassley’s office)

Iowa made national headlines this week as Gov. Kim Reynolds delivered a response to President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address, then signed a controversial transgender athlete bill into law.

But the focus of Iowa’s senators stayed on foreign policy as they advocated for additional action to punish Russia for invading Ukraine.

Russia reactions: Senators call for more sanctions, no oil imports

Iowa’s senators signed onto several efforts this week to stem the flow of money and support into Russia. 

“Putin’s inhumane and unprovoked attack on Ukraine and its people can’t go unpunished, and neither should his dark history of jailing and even murdering dissidents,” Sen. Chuck Grassley said in a news release. “By holding Putin and his allies accountable for the innocent blood they have on their hands, we can ensure they’re brought to justice and prevent future atrocities.”

Biden asks for more COVID-19 funding; Senate Republicans push back

The White House requested an additional $22.5 billion for COVID-19 relief, but Senate Republicans were not on board.

Grassley and Ernst joined a letter demanding a breakdown of how previous federal COVID-19 funds have been allocated, and more detailed information on how the new funds would be spent. 

“Before we would consider supporting an additional $30 billion for COVID-19 relief, Congress must receive a full accounting of how the government has already spent the first $6 trillion,” the letter reads. 

Republicans rally around Reynolds’ State of the Union response

Iowa’s governor was on national television this week, delivering the Republican response to Biden’s State of the Union address. Republican members of Iowa’s delegation lauded her performance. 

“Her response was full of hope — she knows that the solutions to our problems won’t come from government, they’ll come from the American people,” Rep. Ashley Hinson said in a statement. “She makes Iowans proud every day, and she made us proud tonight.”

Iowa’s lone Democrat, Rep. Cindy Axne, posted selfies from the State of the Union address and she was eager to hear Biden’s agenda on “lower prices for working families, fix our supply chains, and protect our democracy at home and abroad.” She did not tweet or issue a statement about Reynolds.

Miller-Meeks joins bill against Israel divestment

Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks joined over three dozen Republicans in introducing a bill to oppose the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement against Israel. The legislation would reaffirm U.S. support for Israel and protect “American companies from being coerced to provide information to international organizations for the purpose of furthering boycotts against Israel,” according to a Miller-Meeks press release. 

House passes bill for veterans exposed to burn pits

A bipartisan majority in the House passed a bill this week to improve health care access for veterans who were exposed to toxic substances and burn pits, a military waste disposal method. 

“Veterans who have been exposed to burn pits and toxic substances while on active duty have reported life-threatening side effects and they deserve full attention from the VA and their medical doctors,” Axne said in a statement.

Axne was the only member of Iowa’s delegation to vote in favor of the bill, known as the Honoring Our PACT Act. Miller-Meeks, a veteran, voted against the proposal. She advocated for a smaller bill known as the Health Care for Burn Pit Victims Act. She said the alternative proposal was “responsible and sustainable.”

“This week, the House could have taken this bill, passed it with a strong bipartisan vote, and sent it to President Biden’s desk to become law,” Miller-Meeks said. “Instead, we used valuable floor time debating and voting on a partisan bill that will not become law in its current form.”

The PACT Act awaits consideration in the Senate.

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Katie Akin
Katie Akin

Katie Akin is a former Iowa Capital Dispatch reporter. Katie began her career as an intern at PolitiFact, debunking viral fake news and fact-checking state and national politicians. She moved to Iowa in 2019 for a politics internship at the Des Moines Register, where she assisted with Iowa Caucus coverage, multimedia projects and the Register’s Iowa Poll. She became the Register’s retail reporter in early 2020, chronicling the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Central Iowa’s restaurants and retailers.