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House doesn't vote on farm bill before recess

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Posted: Sunday, August 5, 2012 12:00 am

The full farm bill will have to wait.

Republican leadership refused to yield to growing pressure from the Midwest drought and did not bring the farm bill to the U.S. House floor before Congress' August recess. Instead, the House passed a disaster-assistance bill aimed at helping farmers in danger of the drought's impact.

Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, was one of many lawmakers who wanted to bring the farm bill to the House floor for debate before the recess. He is attempting to force the bill to a vote by obtaining enough signatures to issue a discharge petition.

Braley voted for the disaster-relief bill, as did all area legislators, save Rep. Ron Kind, D-Wis.

"The drought-assistance bill passed today is a step forward for Iowa farmers struggling through this summer's drought, but it's no farm bill," Braley said. "It's a shame that politicians in Congress are behaving like little children. Instead of taking another recess to go out and play politics, Congress needs to grow up, act like adults and get the job done."

The Senate has already passed its version.

House leadership has not brought the farm bill to the floor and may not until after the November election. The current bill, passed in 2008, expires Sept. 30. If a new farm bill is not passed by then, the most likely resolution appears to be a one-year extension of the current legislation. Some have expressed concern with the uncertainty of such a stopgap solution.

"We do need to provide relief during this historic drought, but that should not come at the expense of already under-funded conservation programs that better prepare farmers to withstand the effects of future natural disasters," Kind said.

CONNOLLY ACT

PASSES U.S. HOUSE

Legislation named in honor of a Dubuque military serviceman that provides housing grants for injured and disabled veterans passed the U.S. House last week.

The Andrew Connolly Veterans' Housing Act is named for the former Iowa Army National Guardsman who passed away in 2011. Connolly returned from a tour in Iraq with a tumor in his spine and was able to secure a grant that allowed him to move into a wheelchair-accessible home.

The legislation passed last week will extend for 10 years the program that helps injured and disabled veterans retrofit their homes to make them more disability-accessible.

GRASSLEY DEFIES ROMNEY'S POLICY

A spokesman for Mitt Romney's campaign revealed this week that the presumed Republican nominee for president would indeed, as expected, allow the tax credit for wind-energy production to expire if elected.

Romney's position is seen as a potentially dangerous one in the swing state of Iowa, which employs the most wind-energy-related jobs -- about 7,000 -- in the nation. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, reaffirmed his support for wind energy despite Romney's stance.

In fact, on Thursday, his amendment extending the wind-energy tax credit for one year was included in the Family and Business Tax Cut Certainty Act of 2012 reported by the Committee on Finance.

"In the face of an effort to end this incentive, I persuaded committee leaders to include the extension in a way that keeps it at full value and that puts the wind-energy-production tax credit in a strong position for the floor debate this fall," Grassley said. "No single energy tax incentive should be singled out over others, energy-related and not, before a broad-based tax reform debate."

NUMBERS SHOW MORE

GOP GAINS IN IOWA

Republicans' registration advantage over Democrats in Iowa has improved.

According to data released last week of the Iowa Secretary of State's office, there are more than 620,000 active registered Republicans in Iowa and just fewer than 599,000 active registered Democrats.

In March, the GOP surpassed registered Democrats in Iowa for the first time. Since then, the gap has widened.

DUBUQUERS NAMED

TO ADVISORY BOARDS

Dubuque's Sarah Harris and Mark Wagner were named this week to a regional advisory board for Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad's initiative on improving student achievement in education.

Branstad's STEM program is a public-private partnership to boost student performance in science, technology, engineering and math education. Harris and Wagner will serve on one of six regional boards as ground-level program advocates.

SCHILLING-BUSTOS

DEBATE FINALIZED

U.S. Rep. Bobby Schilling, R-Ill., will debate Republican challenger Cheri Bustos, a former alderwoman from East Moline, Ill., at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 11. The event will be broadcast live on WQAD-TV.

The half-hour debate is co-hosted by The Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus and also will be streamed live on Quad Cities Online and WQAD.com. WQAD News 8 anchor Jim Mertens will serve as moderator.

Schilling and Bustos are running for Congress in Illinois' newly drawn 17th District, which includes all of the TH's northwest Illinois coverage area.

Murphy covers politics for the TH.

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