New Iowa Republican Attorney General Brenna Bird has had a busy few weeks, joining or starting multiple lawsuits and penning letters against actions from President Joe Biden’s administration.
Bird announced last Thursday that she had joined 24 other states in suing over the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ new rule requiring gun owners to register weapons with pistol braces.
This followed a letter Bird signed the week prior to major pharmacy chains, claiming that their plan to mail abortion pills per Food and Drug Administration rules was, in fact, illegal.
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“Their plan violates the (U.S.) Constitution, so we wrote letting them know that,” Bird told the Telegraph Herald after a closed-to-the-press roundtable she held with local law enforcement in Dubuque on Feb. 2.
On Friday, Bird joined a Texas lawsuit seeking to end the federal authorization of a drug used in the majority of abortions nationwide.
Bird has joined at least eight lawsuits against the federal government since taking office, all over policies specific to Biden’s administration.
And Bird has proposed a budget for her department that included $1 million more for lawsuits against Biden’s agenda.
Iowa Rep. Chuck Isenhart, D-Dubuque, criticized that proposal on Twitter last week.
“I am told that the Iowa AG today asked the Legislature for close to $1 million to hire six people to sue the federal government,” he said in his post. “Didn’t the (Republican) Legislature previously CUT Tom Miller’s budget when (they) thought the AG was suing the federal government too much??”
Reynolds not done with income tax
Republican Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds was in Washington, D.C., last week for two events hosted by national conservative activist organizations.
According to her public schedule, she attended the State Policy Leadership Forum at CATO Institute — a libertarian think tank co-founded by oil billionaire Charles Koch — and a conversation about the “Students First Act” — the law Reynolds championed and signed to have public funds follow students to private schools — at conservative think tank American Enterprise Institute.
Seated before the CATO Institute’s royal blue backdrop — bearing the group’s logo, and the phrases “limited government” and “free markets” — Reynolds said it was her goal to completely eliminate income tax in Iowa by the end of her term. This statement followed a move pushed through the Legislature last year by the Republican majority, per Reynolds’ request, which will have drastically cut income tax (previously the source of 25% of the state’s revenue) by creating a 3.9% flat tax, cutting corporate income taxes further and eliminating tax on retirement income.
Wisconsin delegation split on Biden visit
President Biden stopped in Madison, Wis., last week, in a follow-up tour to his 2023 State of the Union address.
That visit received mixed reviews from the lawmakers representing southwest Wisconsin in D.C.
U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., thanked Biden for his support of U.S. manufacturing in a post on Twitter.
“It’s great to have @POTUS in DeForest today to recognize Wisconsin’s one-of-a-kind union workforce at @LIUNA that is helping power our manufacturing boom,” she said.
U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., welcomed Biden with a caveat.
“Wisconsin will always welcome @POTUS, but it would be nice if he was honest about how much harm his policies have done to Wisconsinites and America,” he said. “Americans didn’t buy his spin last night. The Wisconsin people won’t buy it today. Presumed Republican president options stir further.”
Regarding the State of the Union, U.S. Rep. Derrick Van Orden, R-Wis., did not buy Biden’s claim of, then sparring over, a small number of congressional Republicans’ proposals to possibly look at reforming Social Security and Medicare in a way that could reduce payments to Americans.
Van Orden posted to Twitter numerous times in the days that followed the address, including this from Wednesday: “Cutting Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid IS NOT on the table. It never was. He is flat-out lying to scare the American people. We will not allow him to continue to lie about this.”
U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis., though, said he personally had heard the talk about federal programs Biden referenced in his speech.
“We’ve heard Republicans say they want to cut Social Security and Medicare. And they want you to pay a 30% sales tax on everything,” he said ahead of Biden’s visit. “That’s not just a ‘no’ from Democrats. That’s a ‘hell no!’”
Ahead of a highly publicized “special announcement,” set for Wednesday, Feb. 15, in her home state of South Carolina, Nikki Haley — former ambassador to the United Nations under President Donald Trump — has scheduled the first four town halls of her (likely) presidential campaign. Two of those are scheduled in New Hampshire. Then, she will head to Iowa for events in Urbandale and Marion on Feb. 20 and 21.
Former Vice President Mike Pence — also expected to run for president — is promoting an advertising campaign by the socially conservative PAC he co-founded, Advancing American Freedom, in Iowa. The group and Pence announced a $1 million campaign to bolster Iowa Republican lawmakers’ efforts against transgender-affirming policies in several sectors of life, but especially in public schools.
Perry Johnson, a Michigan businessman and former candidate for governor of Michigan, also announced his formation of a presidential campaign committee last week.
Durbin returns to work for ‘Dreamers’
U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., announced last Friday that he and U.S. Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., had introduced the Dream Act of 2023 — the latest attempt with Durbin’s support to create an accessible pathway to citizenship for undocumented U.S. residents brought to the country as infants or children.
“Dreamers are teachers, nurses and small business owners,” Durbin posted to Twitter. “They’ve built their lives in America — and are American in every way except for their immigration status. Congress needs to provide them the stability they deserve.”
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