Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

Local News

December 19, 2013

Grassley: Budget has too many gimmicks

Sen. Charles Grassley said during a weekly press call on Thursday, Dec. 12, that he was “very much leaning against” the proposed two-year budget agreement, worked out by his fellow Sen. Patty Murray of Washington and Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.

Grassley liked the idea of getting something done in Congress, as the Senate has failed to pass a budget for at least three years. His issue is with the substance of the bill.

One issue Grassley did not like is that the bill calls for $58 billion more in spending without President Obama’s sequestration reductions. Taxes will be raised on airline travelers by $7 billion in the bill as well. However, according to Grassley, that money will not be used specifically for air travel or safety, but will be added to the general fund. Taxes will also increase on employers.

“It’s kind of gimmicky,” Grassley said of the budget bill.

Grassley was also questioned about the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to reduce the Renewable Fuel Standard, which many believe will hit Iowa corn producers hard. The standard forces oil companies to use ethanol in its fuel blends.

On Friday, Grassley joined the other members of Iowa’s Congressional delegation, and Gov. Terry Branstad, in writing a letter to the EPA to ask for the organization to reconsider its decision to reduce the fuel standard. He wanted to remind Iowans that they, too, can provide input to the EPA at www.epa.gov.

Grassley criticized Obama for allowing the EPA to do this, while the President has been touting the need for renewable fuels and bioenergy.

“Everything about ethanol is good, good, good,” Grassley said.

Farmers will have to wait until at least January for a new Farm, Food and Jobs Bill. Grassley said he was told that the bill cannot be completed before the end of December, nor will Congress pass an extension. Eighty percent of the bill is dedicated to food assistance programs, with farmer assistance making up the lesser portion. The Republican-controlled House and Democrat-controlled Senate disagree on the level of funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

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