Iowa Congressional delegation reacts to national emergency declaration, spending bill



(Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)

Sarah Watson, Politics Editor

Iowa politicians reacted Thursday and Friday to President Trump’s national-emergency declaration to finance a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border on Friday.

The declaration came on the heels of both chambers of Congress passing an appropriations bill that would have offered less than half of the funding President Trump requested from Congress to fund his signature campaign promise.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, expressed concern in a statement Thursday about a precedent President Trump could set for future presidents to declare national emergencies to obtain funds.

“As I’ve said many times, I have concerns about the precedent that could be set with the use of emergency action to re-appropriate funds. Accordingly, I will study the President’s declaration closely. The Constitution grants Congress the authority to appropriate federal dollars, so I’m sure such action will be litigated in the courts. What’s clear, however, is that the president takes the situation at our border seriously and that Democrats do not. It defies reason that Democrats are so committed to an open borders agenda,” Grassley said.

One of two new Iowa congresswomen, Rep. Abby Finkenauer, D-Iowa, said in a statement Thursday night that while she was glad Congress was able to avoid another government shutdown — temporary funding was scheduled to run out Friday night — she was concerned funding for the wall could take away funding from other essential areas.

“The potential declaration of a national emergency is concerning and could take essential money from critical projects like the Cedar Rapids flood wall. That federal commitment, made to the people of Eastern Iowa, should not be up for debate,” Finkenauer said Thursday before Trump made his emergency declaration on Friday.

Praise for Trump’s decision to declare a national emergency did come from Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, who House Republicans denied committee assignments in January.

“I have been asking the President to declare a National Emergency to address border security for months, and I support his doing so today,” King said in a prepared statement.

According to Politico, Trump’s decision to declare a national emergency to fund a border wall drew surprise from some GOP Republicans, including Grassley.

Congress passed a budget bill Thursday to avert a second shutdown, sending the legislation on to Trump, who is expected to sign it. Iowa politicians on both sides of the aisle praised the compromise, but several expressed the deal left out key proposals.

The bill provides $1.375 million for 55 miles of fencing along the southern border between the U.S. and Mexico. The funding falls short of Trump’s initial $5.7 billion request to build a wall along the length of the border, an ask that spurred the 35-day government shutdown.

Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, said she was happy that Democrats and Republicans could pass an appropriations bill, but criticized that the bill doesn’t extend the Violence Against Women Act.

“At the end of the day, this legislation is a key starting point that will allow the president to move forward on desperately needed border security efforts,” she said.

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