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Iowa delegation reacts harshly to Siemens layoffs

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Posted: Tuesday, September 18, 2012 4:34 pm | Updated: 5:14 pm, Tue Sep 18, 2012.

Iowa's Congressional delegation has been very supportive of the wind energy production tax credit that is set to expire at the end of the year.

So when a wind energy equipment manufacturer announced layoffs on Tuesday and in doing so blamed the expiration of the tax credit, Iowa's U.S. Senators and 1st District Representative reacted with strong words.

Wind energy equipment manufacturer Siemens Energy Inc. will lay off 615 workers in Iowa, Kansas, and Florida in part because Congress has not renewed a tax credit for wind energy, the company said Tuesday. According to a letter Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, sent to House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, 400 of those jobs lost were in Fort Madison, Iowa.

The tax credit has not been passed by the U.S. House. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has declared his desire to allow the tax credit to expire.

Braley wrote to Boehner to demand immediate action on the wind energy tax credit.

"Iowa workers are suffering, and your political games are directly contributing to job losses in Iowa," Braley wrote to Boehner. "I urge you to immediately release your hold, and allow an extension of the wind energy production tax credit to come up for a vote in the U.S. House, where it would pass with a bipartisan majority."

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, wrote the original wind energy tax credit legislation in 1992. He has called for a one-year extension of the credit.

"In this case and others, the market conditions described by the company emphasize the need for certainty of policies out of Washington, from the production tax credit for wind to the threat of other taxes going up and heavy-handed regulations that make it harder for businesses to sustain and create jobs," Grassley said Tuesday. "Leadership is needed to provide the kind of certainty and confidence employers need to keep and hire workers."

Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, expressed displeasure in the House's failure to extend the tax credit.

"Had the U.S. House passed the Senate committee-approved extension of production tax credit for wind, many of these layoffs may not have occurred," Harkin said.

President Barack Obama visited the Siemens Plant in Iowa in 2010. Brad Anderson, Obama's campaign director in Iowa, released a statement Tuesday that read, in part, "Today’s announcement is another reminder of the clear choice we face in this election, between moving forward toward an economy that creates middle class jobs and increases our energy independence or falling back to policies of the past that send jobs overseas and increase our dependence on foreign oil."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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