D.C. Dispatch: Iowa Republicans work to continue construction on southern border wall

By: - July 1, 2022 1:25 pm
Migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border

Iowa lawmakers are proposing to require the federal government to give states unused border wall building materials so they can continue construction. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Iowa lawmakers joined this week in focusing attention on illegal immigration and the southern border, while also advocating for disaster aid, Farm Bill updates and a proposal to control prescription drug prices.

Building the wall 

Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks proposed a resolution to direct the federal government to hand over materials for constructing the southern border wall to states so that they can continue the work.

U.S. Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, R-2nd District, speaks during a news conference at the U.S.-Mexico border wall in El Paso, Texas on March 15, 2021. (Screen shot from video courtesy of Miller-Meeks’ office)

Miller-Meeks’ proposal is companion legislation to the Border’s Unused Idle and Lying Dormant Inventory Transfer (BUILD IT) Act sponsored by Sen. Joni Ernst.  Sen. Chuck Grassley co-sponsored the bill.

States can ask for unused materials to continue constructing the border wall that started during the Trump administration. Shortly after taking office, President Joe Biden ceased construction on the southern border barrier with an executive order. Since then, Ernst said a historic crisis has unfolded at the border and it is costing taxpayers billions. 

“My legislation, that’s now being introduced in the House by my friend Congresswoman Miller-Meeks, is a simple solution: it puts these already paid for materials to use and helps end this egregious taxpayer-funded waste,” Ernst said in a statement. 

In February, the federal government granted 1,700 unused panels to Texas for state construction along the U.S.- Mexico border. Miller-Meeks said law enforcement officers at the border are overwhelmed with the influx of illegal border crossings. 

“I have visited the border multiple times since coming to Congress and have spoken with law enforcement about the need for increased border security, including building the wall,” Miller-Meeks said. “We need to cut back wasteful federal spending and secure our border; the BUILD IT Act will do just that.”

Aid for derecho damage

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will grant $4.4 million to Marshalltown as the city manages lingering damage from the 2020 derecho. U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson, whose district includes Marshalltown, announced the funding Tuesday. 

The wind storm damaged over 2,778 commercial and residential structures. Earlier in the week, Rep. Cindy Axne and Secretary of Agriculture ]Tom Vilsack visited an Iowa farm damaged by the storm to advertise the federal relief funds. In total, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has allotted over $33 million for recovery aid in response to the derecho. 

“These ongoing relief efforts have put a major strain on local resources and these funds will help the City of Marshalltown fully recover,” Hinson said. “I will continue working to bring disaster relief resources back to Iowa so that we can become whole again after this horrible storm.”

Farm Bill conversations

Rep. Cindy Axne, center, in yellow, speaking with Iowa farmers and producers in Adel, Iowa. (Photo courtesy of Axne’s office)

While stopping in Adel, Iowa, Axne met with agricultural leaders, farmers and producers as part of her ongoing listening tour regarding the reauthorization of the 2023 Farm Bill. 

Axne encouraged anyone to share ideas for the legislation with her campaign. U.S. Department of Agriculture State Director Theresa Greenfield and Matt Russell, state executive director of the Iowa Farm Services Agency, joined Axne in the first roundtable discussion. Axne said there is no better group of people to talk to in preparation for the Farm Bill than Iowans.

“I want to make sure I have the right information on what’s working well, what’s not working well, what programs we could tweak, where we’ve got gaps, and where you think we should expand,” Axne said. “I’m also looking for any ideas that should be in this next farm bill that we haven’t looked at before.”

Prescription drug prices

Grassley met with employees and customers of Estherville Pharmacy to discuss his bipartisan legislation aimed at combating unfair and deceptive practices in the pharmaceutical business.

The bill would direct the Federal Trade Commission to prevent claw-back payments, which are additional fees after the point of sale. Pharmacy benefit managers would also have to report to the Federal Trade Commission how much money they make through pharmacy fees. The Pharmacy Benefit Manager Transparency Act of 2022 passed the Senate Commerce Committee on June 22. 

“The Estherville Pharmacy serves their community by offering quality health care to their customers,” Grassley said. “We must keep local pharmacies strong and create more transparency on the middlemen who drive up costs for consumers and pharmacies.”

Feenstra family picnic

With less than 135 days until the 2022 midterm elections, Rep. Randy Feenstra hosted his second annual Feenstra Family Picnic. He was joined by Gov. Kim Reynolds, Hinson, Miller-Meeks, Iowa’s Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley.

During the event, Feenstra championed the Republican Party’s work to overturn Roe v. Wade. Feenstra described the 6-3 Supreme Court ruling as amazing. 

“We have put people up and down the ballot who are pro-life,” Feenstra said in a video by Sioux City Journal. “Last week, we got to celebrate. We got to celebrate what we all wanted for the last 50 years.”

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Kate Kealey
Kate Kealey

Katherine Kealey is a senior majoring in journalism and political science at Iowa State University. Before interning at the Iowa Capital Dispatch, she interned at the Carroll Times Herald. She will serve as the editor-in-chief of the Iowa State Daily in the fall.

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