Iowa representatives Cindy Axne and Abby Finkenauer have had a busy week in D.C., and it’s only Tuesday.
Most of Washington is focused on whether the House of Representatives will vote to approve two articles of impeachment expected to be brought Wednesday against President Donald Trump.
Axne, Finkenauer and 2nd District Congressman Dave Loebsack announced their support Tuesday afternoon for the articles of impeachment, but they have largely remained focused on legislation impacting Iowans.
Axne and Finkenauer worked together Monday to submit two amendments to a bill that will extend the biodiesel tax credit, which ended in 2017. The amendments were approved by House leadership shortly after they were introduced and the bill passed through the House today. The pair also signed onto three bipartisan bills that were approved by the House yesterday.
Both provisions they were pushing for are now headed to the Senate and are expected to become law very soon.
“I am very pleased that the House appropriations package passed today included a reauthorization of the biodiesel and second generation biofuel tax credits. I am confident that their renewal will provide immediate relief to the biodiesel industry, support jobs in rural Iowa, and set us on a path towards a cleaner environment,” Axne said. “Since coming to Congress, I have fought for these tax credits – both by introducing legislation and speaking repeatedly with House Leadership about including reauthorizations in any year-end deal – because Iowa farmers are already hurting between ongoing trade wars and the EPA undermining the Renewable Fuel Standard at every turn.”
The freshmen congresswomen have worked to extend the biodiesel tax credit for months.
Finkenauer appeared before the House Ways and Means Committee in September to explain how the tax credit helps the biodiesel industry compete with the well-established fossil fuel industry. The biodiesel industry generates more than $11 billion in economic activity annually.
“Biofuels support 48,000 jobs in Iowa and have become a critical domestic market for corn and soybeans,” Finkenauer said. “However, our renewable fuels sector is facing hard times, which makes this hearing especially timely.
“Uncertainty surrounding some of the federal policies and incentives that the biofuels industry has come to rely on has thrown its future and the future of my neighbors and our Iowa farmers into jeopardy,” she said. “This administration’s unprecedented use of small refinery waivers have undercut the renewable fuel standards.”
Approval of 85 RFS waivers for oil refineries killed demand for 1.4 billion bushels of corn.
On Monday, Axne released a statement about the tax credit’s importance for all Iowa farmers, producers, rural small business owners and hard-working families.
“As the Congress considers bills this week to extend and adjust tax provisions, we are determined to fight for the investments that will support our farmers, rural communities, and good-paying green jobs,” said Axne, in a news release. “At a time when Iowa farmers are facing hardship, Congress cannot ignore the importance of including these critical provisions.”
Axne is a member of the Biofuel Caucus and she called for a multi-year extension of the biodiesel tax credit within her first full month of serving in Congress.
Also Monday, Axne and Finkenauer saw three bills they backed pass the House. The Democrat-controlled chamber has now passed 66 bills that have been written or co-sponsored by Congresswoman Axne.
The first of the three bills, called the GREAT Act (Grant Reporting Efficiency and Agreements Transparency), establishes reporting requirements to create a website to publish grant data. The bill will make it easier and cheaper for Iowans to apply for grants and will prevent fraud.
“I’ve heard too many stories from Iowans struggling to navigate federal grant applications,” Axne said, in a statement. “Often times, grants are just awarded to big organizations who can afford a professional grants writer, and I’ve talked to folks running a small business who have a great idea, but don’t know how or where to apply for grants.”
H.R. 4227, known as the MAPS Act, and H.R. 4229, the Broadband DATA Act, made it through the House Monday, too. The bills aim to improve the Federal Communications Commission mapping process for rural broadband and wireless service.
The Broadband DATA Act was introduced by Iowa Rep. Dave Loebsack, who is retiring at the end of his term in 2020.
Finkenauer also managed to secure more than $3 million from the Department of Health and Human Services for the Hawkeye Area Community Action Program.
HACAP provides Head Start and Early Head Start to children in six counties from birth to age 5 with a goal of helping school readiness for children in low-income families.
“Children in our communities deserve every opportunity to succeed, and that starts with proper early childhood education,” Finkenauer said in a statement. “This grant will ensure HACAP can keep serving kids in our community to give them the chance to thrive from the very start. I am thrilled to see such a worthy organization receive an investment like this. I will keep working to make sure the kids in our district are supported so they are not held back from following their dreams.”
By Paige Godden