D.C. Dispatch: Iowa lawmakers focus on supply chain, trucking issues

By: - January 21, 2023 12:14 pm

U.S. House members from Iowa focused this week on supply chain and trucking issues. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

 Iowa’s House delegation focused on transportation and supply chain issues this week, while Rep. Zach Nunn snagged a key committee assignment and Sen. Joni Ernst targeted Planned Parenthood.

Midwest House members address supply chain bottlenecks

Iowa’s House delegation sent a letter to the Surface Transportation Board’s chairman, Martin Oberman, asking him to lift a planned weeks-long embargo on rail service due to what Union Pacific perceives as bad winter weather. 

The Iowa lawmakers joined in the letter with three Minnesota lawmakers – Republican  Reps. Michelle Fischbach and Brad Finstad and Democrat Angie Craig – and Wisconsin Republican  Rep. Tom Tiffany.

The lawmakers said they were skeptical of the need for an embargo because similar weather did not cause embargoes in the past.

“We respectfully urge the STB to exercise its statutory oversight authority by immediately convening a forum with Union Pacific and affected shippers, directing Union Pacific to lift the ongoing embargo, and expeditiously restoring normal rail service throughout the Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin region before further harm to the supply chain may occur,” according to a tweet from Finstad.

Feenstra bill would ease trucking rule

Rep. Randy Feenstra also focused on supply issues. He introduced a bill with Florida Republican Rep. Brian Mast to address a shortage of truck drivers that significantly affects America’s supply chain.

The legislation would allow drivers under age 21 to transport goods from a U.S. port of entry to another location within the same state. That’s currently designated as interstate transportation, which is prohibited for drivers under age 21. The legislation would eliminate the interstate transportation designation.

“Under current law, drivers under the age of 21 are prohibited from transporting goods delivered at a U.S. port of entry to another location within the same U.S. state,” according to a press release. “More specifically, this legislation would amend title 49, U.S. Code, to provide that the transportation of goods from a port of entry to another location within the same U.S. State as said port does not constitute interstate transportation.”

Feenstra said the legislation will push back against government overreach.

“From food and fuel to furniture and fertilizer, Iowa truckers work overtime to keep our shelves stocked and our supply chains moving,” Feenstra said. “However, federal overregulation has exacerbated trucker shortages and prevented household goods that our families rely on from reaching market.”

Regulatory oversight

Feenstra also co-introduced, along with Florida Republican Rep. Kat Cammack, a bill requiring congressional oversight over major regulations enacted by federal agencies.

The bill would require approval by the U.S. House and Senate of every “major rule” proposed by a federal agency, according to a news release.

A “major rule” is defined as “any federal rule or regulation that may result in: an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more; a major increase in costs or prices for consumers, individual industries, government industries, government agencies, or geographic regions; or significant adverse effects on competition, employment, investment, productivity, innovation, or the ability of U.S.-based enterprises to compete with foreign-based enterprises.”

Feenstra described the proposal as a cost-saving measure for businesses and families. “With the right regulatory conditions and tax policies, American families, farmers, and small businesses can outcompete any other nation in the world. …,” he said in a news release. “Unfortunately, burdensome government red tape stifles entrepreneurship, increases the cost of living for our families, raises input costs for our farmers, and disincentivizes Iowans from starting their own business.”

Ernst reintroduces ban on federal funds for Planned Parenthood

Sen. Joni Ernst announced she will reintroduce legislation that bans any federal dollars going to Planned Parenthood “or to any of its affiliates, subsidiaries, successors, or clinics,” according to the bill’s text. 

The bill would also “redirect funds for other health services for women, such as cancer screenings, prenatal and postnatal care, immunizations, and other eligible services,” according to a news release.

“This legislation will help prevent taxpayer funds from being funneled to the nation’s largest abortion provider and allow for greater support of women’s and children’s health care,” Ernst said in a news release.

This comes after Friday’s March for Life in the nation’s capital.

Nunn assigned to Ag Committee

Rep. Zach Nunn has gained a seat on the House Agriculture Committee. This position comes a week after his appointment to the House Financial Services Committee.

The position will allow Nunn to help craft the farm bill, which is reauthorized every five years to address America’s agriculture issues. The last farm bill was passed in 2018

“We have a big agenda with renewing the Farm Bill. It’ll be my job to listen to our farmers and producers so I can convey what Iowans want included in the bill,” Nunn said.

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Luke Clausen
Luke Clausen

Luke Clausen is a reporting intern with Iowa Capital Dispatch. He is a student at Drake University studying Multimedia Journalism, Magazine and Brand Media, and International Relations. Additionally, he helps to manage the Ambassador-in-Residence initiative at Drake with Ambassador Terry Branstad and Drake's Global Engagement team.

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