D.C. Dispatch: Senators propose additional sanctions on Russia
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.”
- Grassley and Sen. Joni Ernst supported a resolution to expel Russia from the United Nations Security Council.
- Forty senators and representatives, including Ernst and Grassley, sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, asking her to prevent Russia from using a special International Monetary Fund maneuver to withdraw hard currency.
- Grassley co-sponsored legislation to stop the import of Russian oil to the U.S. Similar legislation has garnered bipartisan support in the House and Senate.
- Grassley joined Florida’s Sen. Marco Rubio and Sen. Rick Scott on a proposal to sanction Russia’s state-owned businesses.
- Ernst and Grassley sent a letter to leaders from the State Department, Treasury Department and Department of Defense, asking for an investigation into reports that Putin deployed mercenaries to assassinate Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. The letter calls for sanctions on members of the alleged group of mercenaries.
- Grassley and Ernst joined a bipartisan resolution to hold Putin and other Russian leaders accountable for “flagrant acts of aggression and other atrocities rising to the level of crimes against humanity and war crimes.”
- Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-SC, led the resolution. He received bipartisan criticism Friday after posting a tweet calling for Putin’s assassination.
- Ernst proposed an amendment to a Postal Service bill to allow America to transfer “lethal aid” – weapons, equipment and more – to Ukrainian forces.
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.”
Governor @KimReynoldsIA did an exceptional job tonight delivering a strong, conservative vision for America. Her bold leadership is second to none.
— Randy Feenstra (@RandyFeenstra) March 2, 2022
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.
Ready to hear his plans to lower prices for working families, fix our supply chains, and protect our democracy at home and abroad. pic.twitter.com/xeut52giyn
— Rep. Cindy Axne (@RepCindyAxne) March 2, 2022
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.
- Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson meets with top members of U.S. Senate, including Grassley
- Biden OKs release of 30 million barrels of oil from Strategic Petroleum Reserve
- Biden in State of the Union urges ‘unmistakable’ support for democracy in Ukraine
- Gov. Kim Reynolds presents Iowa as ‘an alternative’ to Democratic policies in State of the Union response
- White House allows Ukrainian nationals to stay in the U.S. without fear of deportation
- White House wants $10 billion for Ukraine aid, $22.5 billion for more COVID help
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