D.C. Dispatch: Iowa Republicans oppose Biden plan to end Trump-era border policy

By: - April 1, 2022 3:23 pm

Republicans in Iowa’s D.C. delegation criticized a decision to end Title 42, a Trump-era border policy. (Photo courtesy of the Iowa Department of Public Safety)

Republicans in Iowa’s D.C. delegation took aim at President Joe Biden on Friday, criticizing the administration’s decision to end a Trump-era policy that allowed Customs and Border Patrol to turn away asylum seekers at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Members of the delegation also continued to push for aid to Ukraine, advocated for the summertime use of biofuels and split over capping insulin prices.

Republicans criticize end of Title 42 border policy

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Friday it would end Title 42, a border policy that turned away migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border. The policy was enacted at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and will end in late May.

Several of Iowa’s Republican lawmakers criticized Biden for the decision.

“Just when you think the President’s border policies couldn’t get any worse, they do… Ending Title 42 will exacerbate the crisis at our Southern border and incentivize more illegal immigration,” Rep. Ashley Hinson said. 

Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks tweeted lifting Title 42 could “create one of the largest border crises we have ever seen.” She also introduced a bill to make it easier for people to become border agents, eliminating a polygraph test requirement for some applicants.

“Our (Customs and Border Patrol) agents and officers need more support, not more barriers,” Miller-Meeks said in a statement. “Record numbers of illegal crossings and employment shortages have left them in a tough position and they are doing the best they can.”

Sen. Chuck Grassley tweeted multiple times Friday, arguing lifting Title 42 would be a “BIG MISTAKE.”

While Republicans decried the lifting of Title 42, some Democrats have been critical of the Biden administration for not removing the policy sooner, The Hill reports. Nearly 90 immigrant rights advocates sent a letter to Biden and other administration leaders last week, writing that the continued use of Title 42 “undermines (their) trust in the administration.”

Read more: Biden administration to halt pandemic policy blocking migrants who claim asylum

Axne, Miller-Meeks vote for insulin price cap

The Affordable Insulin Now Act sets $35 as the maximum monthly out-of-pocket cost for insulin for individuals with Medicare Part D or other health insurance. The House passed the bill with bipartisan support, 232-193.

Rep. Cindy Axne and Miller-Meeks voted in favor. Hinson and Rep. Randy Feenstra voted against.

“I’ve heard so many heartbreaking stories from Iowans living with diabetes about the crushing costs of insulin,” Axne said in a statement. “Many have skipped meals or risked their lives by rationing their insulin in order to be able to afford it, and that’s unacceptable.”

The bill heads to the Senate for consideration.

Ernst and Grassley push for Ukraine info, support

Grassley and Sen. Joni Ernst have been outspoken supporters of sending weapons and humanitarian aid to Ukrainians resisting Russian invasion. Ernst led a letter this week asking the Biden administration for more information about how much aid had been delivered and what additional equipment might be needed or available for the fight.

“We need it clearly outlined what those dollars are going for and how are we achieving our goals in Ukraine,” Ernst said at a news conference. “The administration has yet to do that.”

Grassley also signed onto the letter calling for additional information.

Ernst met Wednesday with Ambassador Oksana Markarova and members of the Ukrainian parliament. Ernst said the leaders asked the U.S. for more weapons, including the transfer of Polish fighter jets, and additional sanctions against Russia.

“The Ukrainian army is successfully pushing Russian forces back on the ground, but they need the capabilities to stop the aerial bombardment of hospitals, schools, and homes right now,” Ernst said.

Axne leads biofuels letter, asks for year-round E15

Axne and the House Biofuels Caucus asked Biden to allow the year-round sale of 15% ethanol-blend fuel (E15) to help combat higher gas prices. Miller-Meeks, Hinson and Feenstra also signed the letter.

“Ethanol, biodiesel, and renewable diesel add to the nation’s fuel supply, lowering prices at the pump for nearly every consumer good that moves along the supply chain,” the letter reads.

Under current law, E15 may not be sold in the summer due to concerns about additional air pollution in hot weather. 

Lawmakers from Iowa and other corn-producing states have pushed for more federal funding and support for ethanol. Feenstra questioned Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young this week about why Biden’s latest proposed budget doesn’t include more money for biofuels.

“We are all paying a tremendous amount for gas at the pump right now which affects every family and business,” Feenstra said. “So, my question is, being from Iowa, why don’t we have American made biofuels in this budget?”

Biden’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2022 included $1 billion for biofuels, allocated over four years, according to Biomass Magazine.

Miller-Meeks, Axne propose opioid treatment changes

Miller-Meeks and Axne cosponsored a bill this week to change federal guidelines for opioid addiction treatment. Under current rules, patients must be addicted to opiods for a full year before receiving certain treatments.

“Opioid addiction does not have a timeline and does not discriminate,” Miller-Meeks said in a statement. “Patients should be able to begin treatment for opioid addiction as soon as possible.”

Axne also introduced a bill to reauthorize opioid treatment programs and provide more funding to suicide prevention programs for young adults. 

“”Our country’s worsening mental health crisis is taking a devastating toll on young people, and the need to invest in youth mental health and suicide prevention efforts couldn’t be more dire,” Axne said.

Ernst leads bill to study brain injuries in domestic abuse survivors

Ernst and Sen. Catherine Cortez Matso, D-Nevada, introduced a bill to require the Department of Health and Human Services to study traumatic brain injuries in survivors of domestic abuse. Ernst, who is herself a survivor of domestic violence, said the bill would help “improve reporting and in turn find more effective ways to treat and support survivors.” 

Hinson, Feenstra introduce bills to prevent abortions

Feenstra introduced a bill this week to prohibit doctors from performing a “coercive, forceful, or intentional abortion” of a fetus diagnosed with Turner syndrome. Under the bill, medical professionals may not accept or solicit payment to perform an abortion due to Turner syndrome or assist women in finding a different state or country to have the procedure. Doctors would face criminal penalties, under the proposal, but the women could not be held liable. 

“My faith teaches me that every person is created for a purpose and a reason, and that every person – both born and unborn – deserves to be treated with dignity and respect,” Feenstra said in a statement. “The Protecting Girls with Turner Syndrome Act is a critical step as we fight to put an end to abortion in our country.”

Hinson introduced the “Pregnant Students’ Rights Act,” a bill to provide more information to pregnant college students “about their rights and resources and support(s) on campus.”

“College students who are pregnant or may become unexpectedly pregnant deserve to know all of the resources available to them, and it is unacceptable that so many are told that abortion is their only option,” Hinson said. “Young women should feel empowered to choose life and create the best future for both themselves and their child.”

Both bills are unlikely to pass in the Democrat-controlled House. There are no cosponsors on either bill.

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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.